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Volunteers needed to watch for nectar-feeding bats in Arizona

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Posted at 6:18 PM, Jun 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-20 21:18:20-04

If you have a hummingbird feeder, you may be able to help the Arizona Game and Fish Department and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in monitoring nectar-feeding bats.

Volunteers will be asked to check their hummingbird feeders two or three time per week and report the activity on a web-based data entry form. Photos are also wanted for species identification.  

In southern Arizona two bat species consume nectar; the lesser long-nosed bat, a federally endangered species and the Mexican long-tongued bat, an Arizona species of concern. The bats are typically found living in caves and mines and are gentle, beneficial pollinators who travel in search of food during summer nights. They migrate to Mexico in the fall.

 “If your hummingbird feeders mysteriously drained during the night last summer, the midnight raiders may have been bats,” said AGFD Regional Supervisor Raul Vega. “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.”

Bats using hummingbird feeders has been documented in southern Arizona for many years but now it is being detected as far north as Mammoth in Pinal County, as south as Nogales in Santa Cruz County, and as east as Benson and Sierra Vista in Cochise County. 

The City of Tucson, Pima County, and the Town of Marana have spearheaded efforts for habitat conservation to evaluate potential effects of the bats in the Tucson basin. 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed removing the lesser long-nosed bat from the federal endangered species list because of the significant increase in their population observed by volunteers.Even if the species is taken off the endangered species list, volunteers will still be needed to monitor the bat activity and population levels.

Those interested in volunteering can contact the project's Volunteer Coordinator, Emily Scobie of the Arizona Game & Fish Department at escobie@azgfd.gov.

For more information on the 2017 hummingbird feeder monitoring program can click here.