Birding… the gateway activity to conservation.
at first the response is…
then you realize all your friends will be back and it’s all good…
Don’t Bug Montana
In a place called Big Timber, Montana, the small mountain pine beetle has taken its toll…the destructive beetle has killed up to 90 percent of the lodgepole pines. According to BLM forester Bruce Reid, “You can almost hear them chewing though the trees on quiet days.”
Read more in Don’t Bug Montana - a feature article in the Bureau of Land Managements’s My Public Lands Magazine, Summer 2014.
How adorable! A bat maternity colony!
Female bats, ready to give birth, will form maternity colonies. Often found in trees and tree cavities, they have also been found in buildings, or in this case, bridges. There have been signs of maternity colony preferences in different bat species, but as you can see here, these guys are pretty set with their man-made set up.
Thanks to Ellen Whittle for the footage.
Flapping, evening, friends, an interview on bats!
While the video has been up, seems a post has escaped me. Now you have it here as well: the interview with Ellen Whittle. She has worked all summer studying bats in Montana, looking at their use of human structures such as bridges. The findings have been great and she has been so wonderful about coming in and answering some questions.
For more on bats, please see her article here.
If you’re still curious, leave us some comments on our video and either Ellen or one of our bat-loving biologists here at the UM will help answer your question.
An Interview Episode on the Horizon (and other updates)
Hello fellow wildlifers and wildlife-lovers! The next episode of the Wildlife Webshow is due to make an appearance Saturday afternoon. I apologize for the lateness of this episode, but I’m actually bound for Yellowstone National Park and wont be back till then. Anyways! Our next episode will be an interview with one of our UM students, Ellen Whittle, whom wrote the article posted yesterday on the lovable chiroptera… bats! We still expect to have a history episode up on the 20th, so this is kind of a bonus.
Hope you’re all having a wonderful summer!
A Summer with Bats (an article by Ellen Whittle)
This summer, I teamed up with the Montana Natural Heritage Program and the Forest Service for a thesis project on bats in Western Montana. For two months, I have been driving and hiking out to bridges in 3 counties to determine whether bats use them as roosts. It has been quite the learning experience for me and my interns. After trying to think like a bat for two months, I have learned a few lessons about these amazing animals.
1) Unlikely places can serve as habitat for bats.
My background research led me to believe I would not find bats in certain places—say, a roost 3 feet off the ground, or a bridge in the middle of town over heavy traffic—but at times, that is exactly where I have found them. They will use less-than-ideal roosts on occasion—and also ignore roosts that seem perfectly ideal. We do not know everything about them yet!
2) Which means, if you want to find a bat, be ready to crawl around in some strange locations.
Searching for bats has taken me to some gorgeous Montana mountains, caves and forests. It has also required crawling through rusty barbed wire, broken glass, beer cans and other highway detritus. Long pants, gloves, and a hearty constitution are recommended.
3) Bats are social, intelligent creatures.
A common misconception about bats is that they are mice with wings, simple rodents that just happen to fly. Besides being unrelated to rodents, bats are complex creatures with social lives. Some of our roosts were only discovered because we could hear the bats “chatting” somewhere under the bridge. All day long they talk to each other, which makes me wonder what they’re saying.
4) Bats have an incredible impact on our landscape.
Before I started my surveys, I did not fully realize just how widespread Montana’s 15 bat species are. They are almost everywhere, removing insects that spread diseases or destroy crops, free of charge to humans. Next time you’re outside at dusk, look up. You’ll probably see some bats flitting around (they’re the very quick, silent ones).
5) People want to know more about bats.
As I’m working, I have been approached by curious folks who had no idea whether Montana had bats at all, or how widespread they are. Many people didn’t know that bats even roost in bridges. I think people are willing to look positively on bats if they are given accurate information about them. Bats are in decline across the world, and they need the public support.
I have even more questions about bats now than when I started. Thesis projects are a great way to gain firsthand experience with research and develop skills in an area you’re interested in. I encourage other students to talk with their advisers about a project!
Pictures from video Ellen Whittle took.
Wildlife Biology Program Field Trips. Circa 1987 & 1988.
Birds can build too!
Not just humans have used mud can clay to construct homes, birds have too! These rufous horneros (Furnarius rufus) are so well known for their mud nests (ovens) that their name translates to red ovenbird. While these birds are not from Montana, but eastern South America, this line-up of photos was too good to pass up. Perhaps in the future I’ll find a good photo collection of swallows building their nest! There are so many wonderful nest types in the world!
Psst! This is my town! I have a friend who lives on muggle lane!
This is our town, too3
I think the muggles are on to us… best we work harder on hiding what the UM Wildlife Biology department really is.