After spending the past seven nights sitting in the forest waiting for bats to fly into our nets, Brandon has finally perfected the magical skill of leaf levitation! The trick to it is to concentrate his mental energies while using the beam from his headlamp to force a leaf to hover above his open palm. And it helps to make a funny face while doing it.
It's that time of year again - bat season! I look forward to it, and dread it, every year. This year Jamie has been handling the bulk of the bat surveys while I focused on other work, so I was feeling relieved to be home and also a little jealous that I was missing out on all he bat fun. I'm pretty sure the two week stint I have been assigned will be more than enough to satisfy all my bat survey desires.
See, it's magic! As the magicians assistant, I can not reveal his secrets, but if you guess the answer I will let you know.
The bat in the photo above is a female northern long-eared bat. We captured her in our mist net as she swooped down to take a drink from a puddle of water in a rut on a dirt road through the forest. Or maybe she was chasing a bug near the water. Either way, she flew into my net, and I was able to identify her, weigh her, check her condition, and put the small metal band on her arm that you can see on the left side of the photo, near my thumb.
If you've never looked closely at a bats wing, it's worth doing when you get a chance. Notice the short upper arms that come from her shoulders, the bend in the arm that is the elbow, and the long forearm, to which I attached the band. At the end of the forearm, near my thumbs in the photo, is the wrist and hand with a little clawed thumb that is sticking up on the right side of the photo. When bats crawl they use this little thumb as a hook to pull themselves. The four fingers are extremely long, even longer than their arms, and are connected to each other by the wing membrane. The wing membrane also connects the pinkie finger to the side of the foot near the baby toe. I wonder, how weird would it be if I had fingers longer than my arms, and my hands were connected to my feet by a big flap of skin? Very weird, but worth it if it meant I could fly. Having a tail that was also connected to my foot might be too weird!
In this photo, you can see how she folds her fingers down along her forearm and her little thumbs are dangling down. She doesn't seem to appreciate her new bracelet, or her photo shoot, and is letting me know by chewing on my ring finger. I can't blame her though, because I'm not a fan of jewelry I can't ever take off either. I feel like chewing on my own ring finger when I struggle to remove my wedding ring these days, so I know how she feels.
The band has a number that will be entered into a database so that if she is ever found in a cave, we can know how far she flies to her winter and summer habitats. Not much is known about the migratory patterns of bats, so putting bands on bats helps fill in the blanks.
This little guy is a big brown bat. He's calmly waiting in the bottom of a paper sandwich bag after he was just weighed. See his cute little thumbs sticking off his wrists? He is squinting his eyes because I am shining my light in his face. It's hard to get a good photo with eyes open because of my headlamp. Poor bats probably always fly away from me seeing spots.