On 7/9 we all went on a staff excursion to Lava Beds National Monument in Tulelake, Northern California. This trip, in combination with the trip down to Camp Tule Lake to assist in bat surveys, has awakened in me a deep love of bats and their ecology! I have decided to dedicate this blog post to interesting facts about one native bat species in particular, Townsend’s big-eared bat (Corynorhinus townsendii).

We had a chance to tour two caves, Valentine Cave and Skull Cave. There was something magical about descending into the depths and feeling the air cool rapidly. We had a chance to learn about cave features, the history of the caves, various cave monitoring efforts at the monument, and how this all relates to bat monitoring and ecology at Lava Beds.

Valentine Cave, Lava Beds National Monument

On to the bat of the hour:

  • Townsend’s big-eared bats fold one or both of their comically large ears against their head during torpor and hibernation, forming coils like a ram’s horn
  • The longest-lived Townsend’s big-eared bat on record was over 21 years old! It could have grabbed a drink at its local pub. Interestingly, they live shorter lives in captivity than in the wild
  • Bats play an amazing role – they are the only night-time consumers of flying insects, so thank your local Townsend’s big-eared bat for being a great camping buddy
  • Townsend’s big-eared bats love cavernous structures; caves, mines, lava tubes, and abandoned buildings all across the upland Western United States suit them fine. They also utilize deciduous and coniferous forests on the Pacific coast and have been recorded roosting in the hollows of redwood trees!
Townsend’s Big-eared Bat (Corynorhinus townsendii) Photo Credit – Ann Froschauer/USFWS

All facts are cited from:

Gruver, J., D. Keinath. 2006. “Townsend’s Big-eared Bat (Corynorhinus townsendii): a technical conservation assessment.” (On-line pdf). Accessed July 14th, 2019

Besides caving, we’ve been finishing up some work associated with milk-vetch surveys, studying brook trout fecundity, researching beaver-trout interactions and implications for bull trout management, gathering information on endemic sculpin, and getting ready to embark on electrofishing excursions in the coming weeks. Til next time!

Valentine Cave Entrance



1 thought on “Bats!

  1. Correction! Bats are the primary night-time consumers of flying insects, not the only ones!

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