TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The Arizona Game and Fish Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are asking for volunteers throughout southern Arizona to be on the lookout for bats using home hummingbird feeders.
"If your hummingbird feeders mysteriously drained during the night last summer, the midnight raiders may have been bats," said AGFD Regional Supervisor Raul Vega, in a news release. "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."
Volunteers are 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.
Those willing to participate in the project, conducted in partnership with the Town of Marana, should contact this project's Volunteer Coordinator, Emily Scobie of the Arizona Game & Fish Department at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are two bat species in southern Arizona that consume nectar, the lesser long-nosed bat (recently removed from the federal endangered species list) and the Mexican long-tongued bat (listed in Arizona as a species of concern).
These bats live in caves and mines and are beneficial pollinators, but many have discovered the benefits of hummingbird feeders.
This is not a new phenomenon, over the years bats have been seen using these convenient feeders. According to the AGFD release, in 2006 a large number of bats were seen foraging on the feeders in urban areas across Tucson.
Bats visiting the feeders are now being detected more widely in southern Arizona, and volunteers are currently monitoring them as far north as Mammoth in Pinal County and as far south as Nogales in Santa Cruz County, and as far east as Benson and Sierra Vista in Cochise County.
Habitat conservation planning efforts by the city of Tucson, Pima County, and the town of Marana have spearheaded these efforts to evaluate potential effects to these bat species in the Tucson basin.
The 2018 hummingbird feeder monitoring program website can be located at the following link: http://www.maranaaz.gov/bats
In part due to project volunteers detecting significant increases in the lesser long-nosed bat population, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently removed the species from the federal endangered species list earlier this year. The de-listing of the species means a continued need to monitor bat activity and population levels.
Additional information can be found at the project's official website sponsored by the town of Marana.