If your hummingbird feeders are being drained overnight, you may have bats visiting — and there are some researchers who would love to talk to you.
The Arizona Game and Fish Department, local researchers and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are monitoring bat activity and population levels in Southern Arizona.
They are looking for volunteers willing to check their hummingbird feeders two or three times per week for signs of bat use and to provide information on bat activity at their location via a web-based data entry form. Photos of bats feeding are also being sought for species identification.
“Most of Arizona’s 28 bat species eat insects, but two species drink nectar and eat pollen from plants such as the saguaro and agaves. These bats are becoming common visitors to Southern Arizona hummingbird feeders in late summer and early fall," said Raul Vega, a regional supervisor with Game and Fish.
There are two bat species that consume nectar: the lesser long-nosed bat, which was recently removed from the federal endangered species list; and the Mexican long-tongued bat, an Arizona species of concern.
The bats live in caves and mines. During the summer, they travel from Mexico and search for food at night. They return home in the fall. Bats have been known to use hummingbird feeders in Southern Arizona for years.
According to Game and Fish officials, large numbers of bats were detected foraging on hummingbird feeders in the urban areas surrounding the Tucson basin in 2006. They are now being detected more widely in Southern Arizona, and volunteers are monitoring them as far north as Mammoth in Pinal County, as far south as Nogales in Santa Cruz County, and as far east as Benson and Sierra Vista in Cochise County. The City of Tucson, Pima County and Marana use the data collected to help with habitat conservation planning efforts.
Additional information can be found at the project’s official website hosted by the Arizona Game & Fish Department. The 2019 hummingbird feeder monitoring program website can be located at the following link: https://www.azgfd.com/wildlife/backyard-bats/
Those willing to participate in the project, conducted in partnership with the Town of Marana, should contact Adjunct Professor Ted Fleming of the University of Arizona at email@example.com. Volunteers will be asked for their name and address, cross streets only if preferred; zip code; and the general dates bats were noticed using hummingbird feeders, and will be provided with the monitoring protocol.