This installment of our series is about our migratory species’ coming home to Alberta – some of which have already made their way here! The sound of Canada geese honking has been resonating in the sky for a couple of weeks now (depending on where you live). Geese and other waterfowl try to time their return for when water bodies start becoming ice-free. Continue reading
We’ve been learning about various kinds of birds that migrate south during Alberta’s long, cold winters. What about the birds of prey – owls, hawks, eagles and falcons? It turns out that some stay but many leave for southern clines. Continue reading
They’ve had a superhero named after them – and it’s no wonder – bats are an essential part of ecosystems throughout the world, including here in Alberta, where we have nine species of insect-eating bats. In North America, the fungal disease White-nose Syndrome has devastated bat populations in the east, and has now been detected near Seattle. Continue reading
This is part two of a six part series on hibernators. You can read part one here.
What do bats do in the winter? Do they hang out with Dracula and his friends or plot how to best get tangled in your hair come spring? In Alberta, of our nine bat species, six hibernate:
- Big Brown Bat (Eptesicus fuscus)
- Eastern Red Bat (Lasiurus borealis)
- Little Brown Bat (Myotis lucifugus)
- Long-eared Bat (Myotis evotis)
- Long-legged Bat (Myotis volans)
- Northern Bat (Myotis septentrionalis)
and three migrate south to warmer locations:
- Hoary Bat (Lasiurus cinereus)
- Silver-haired Bat (Lasionycteris noctivagans)
- Western Small-footed Bat (Myotis ciliolabrum)
There are about 1000 species of bats in the world, and most are beneficial. A little brown bat, for example, can consume more than 600 mosquito-sized insects in an hour. While these flying mammals aren’t blind there is no way they can see white-nose syndrome coming.
White-nose syndrome is a disease caused by a fungus that affects only bats using caves to hibernate. The fungus irritates the bats, causing them to wake during hibernation, and without available food (insects), they starve to death.