Hummingbird feeders hijacked by piggy bats

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Hummingbird feeders hijacked by piggy bats

Postby jonsdigs » Oct 8, 2006 8:04 pm

Hummingbird feeders hijacked by piggy bats
By Dan Sorenson
arizona daily star
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 10.08.2006

If you've been hearing a sucking sound from the border, it might be the guzzling gang of bats that's been slurping Southern Arizona's hummingbird feeders dry all summer and is now beating wing for its winter digs in Mexico.
Bat experts have known for years that nectar-feeding bats sometimes drop by hummingbird feeders for a nightcap.
But Karen Krebbs, a conservation biologist at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, says staffers got many more public reports of binge drinking by bats this year than usual.
Bats fly up to the feeder and stall, shoot their tongues up to six times a second into the feeder as they begin to fall, then flap their wings.
photo courtesy of tim axelrod

Typically, she says, people noticed that their hummingbird feeders were being drained more quickly than usual. And then they noticed that it happened overnight.
Krebbs and other local bat experts are at a loss to explain the apparent increase in bat attendance at local hummingbird feeders this year.
It is thought Arizona's two species of nectar-feeding bats — the Mexican long-tongued bat and the endangered lesser long-nosed bat — have been crashing hummingbird feeders for at least 50 years.
Bill Peachey, who has studied both bats and the saguaro stand near Colossal Cave Mountain Park, says the practice of putting out hummingbird feeders probably dates to just after World War II.
Eating from a hummingbird feeder hanging in a backyard is something that bats learned.
"That's not natural. Most nectar bats don't feed on red flowers," says Peachey.
It wouldn't be the last time the bats surprised those who study their behavior.
Peachey says the nectar-feeding bats follow the agave and saguaro bloom as it spreads from lower desert into the higher elevations around Tucson.

But it was, Peachey says, a bad year for agave, and there were a lot of bats around.

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