TUCSON — Arizona Game and Fish Department, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and local researchers are seeking volunteers from throughout southern Arizona to monitor use of their home hummingbird feeders by nectar-feeding bats.
Those willing to participate in the project, conducted in partnership with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and local researchers, should contact Emily Scobie, of the Arizona Game & Fish Department, the project’s volunteer coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Volunteers will be asked 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.
“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.”
In southern Arizona, 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. These gentle, beneficial pollinators live in caves and mines. During summer nights, they travel in search of food and, over time, have found their way to hummingbird feeders in southern Arizona. The bats are migratory and return to Mexico in the fall.
The use of hummingbird feeders by bats has been documented in southern Arizona for many years. In 2006, large numbers of bats were detected foraging on hummingbird feeders in the urban areas surrounding the Tucson basin. Bats visiting the feeders are now being detected more widely in southern Arizona.
Additional information can be found at the project’s official website hosted by the Arizona Game & Fish Department at https://www.azgfd.com/wildlife/backyard-bats/.