If you find bats to be compelling creatures, you won’t want to miss the Bat ‘n Beers Night event coming up at Ellis Bird Farm.
The event, which will also feature Cory Olson of the Alberta Community Bat Program, runs July 22 from 8 to 10:30 p.m.
Folks will also have the chance to look for bats at dusk, and use echo-location equipment and an infrared camera to spot them, too, said Carolyn Ross, site manager and biologist at the Farm.
She noted that the cafe will also be open for the beers portion of the evening, along with other goodies. Those interested are asked to register at www.ellisbirdfarm.ca.
There is also a cost to take part as well – $10 per adult or $20 per family.
“For Bat ‘n Beers Night, we work with the Alberta Community Bat Program. They are also a non-profit agency – and we’ve been doing this for quite a few years now,” explained Ross.
“Cory Olson does these types of talks and events across Alberta, trying to raise awareness. So our program will be partly indoors with the educational presentation by Cory.
“Occasionally, he will have a rehabilitated bat that can’t be put back into the wild. So there will be a live bat on display at the end of his talk,” she said.
“Then around 9:30 or 10 p.m., we move outdoors.”
This is where the echo-location equipment and the infrared camera come in.
“People will have the chance to use some of those tools. They can stand near the bat houses and see the echo-location equipment going off! We have four different bat houses which are quite accessible to see, too. People can gather around a couple of them and watch the bats fly out at dusk.”
Ross also noted that it’s a family-friendly evening.
“We have two species of bats that are using our bat houses – the Little Brown Bats – the myotis. And the Big Brown Bat,” she explained.
“We have been doing some bat counts this summer before the young were born. In the little brown bat boxes – there are two of those – there are 120 in one and almost 200 in the other that we counted last week.
“So when Cory talks, it will be the adults emerging. Towards August, the young will actually be coming out, too.
“People really do get a kick out of it. And we also get a lot of families participating, too. The kids are fascinated, and people in general just really love it.”
According to the Alberta Community Bat Program, there are over 1,300 species of bats worldwide, of which about 19 occur in Canada and about nine are here in Alberta.
“Alberta’s bats are abundant and are undoubtedly important to the healthy functioning of our ecosystems.”
Ross said bats get a pretty bad rap – they are often portrayed in a negative light. But they are actually an important part of the ecosystem.
“These events are important to show the value that bats do bring to the ecosystem. They help with bug control and all sorts of things like that,” she said.
They are also everywhere – rural and urban areas.
“They tend to like a wetland nearby, which provides a lot of the insects that they need to eat,” she said.
Unfortunately, the little ones – the Myotis – have been listed as an endangered species, she added.
“The biggest threat that is coming for our bats is this White-Nose Syndrome. “It’s a fungus and it’s been moving across North America from the east. It’s not in Alberta yet, but it is devastating populations out east.”
For more information about ‘Bat ‘n Beer Night’, check out www.ellisbirdfarm.ca or find them on Facebook for the latest updates.
“I like to see everyone get excited about bats,” said Ross of the popular event.
“And the gadgets that Cory will be bringing out are really helpful for people, too.”