The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AGFD) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in cooperation from the Town of Marana and Bat Conservation International, are seeking help from the public as the Nighttime Hummingbird Feeder Bat Monitoring Project resumes for 2011.
Most of Arizona’s 28 bat species eat insects, but the federally endangered Lesser long-nosed bats (Leptonycteris yerbabuenae), and the Arizona species of concern Mexican long-tongued bats (Choeronycteris mexicana), drink nectar and from hummingbird feeders, and also eat pollen and fruits from plants such as the saguaro and agave.
In years past, citizen scientists have volunteered numerous hours each summer to monitor their hummingbird feeders for those two bats. Such observations, including photos, provide valuable information that allows for better understanding the of bats behaviors.
The bats migrate north from Mexico and arrive in southern Arizona as the saguaro cactus and agave begin to bloom, traveling throughout southern Arizona.
“If you enjoy watchable wildlife and sitting on your porch during summer evenings, please consider volunteering your time for this worthy cause,” said AGFD Wildlife Specialist Shawn Lowery. “Your efforts will allow wildlife and resource managers in Arizona to better understand the ecology of these species.”
The goals of the project are to understand when these species arrive in southern Arizona, determine foraging habits and movement patterns, and document when the migratory species depart Arizona.
Those interested in participating should visit the official website sponsored by the Town of Marana, www.marana.com/bats. The website allows participants to sign up as volunteers and to download information about this year’s monitoring protocol.