Audio recordings of echolocation calls indicate the tiny canyon bat is extending its range into B.C. (Photo by Maura Thoenes, iNaturalist.org)

New bat moving into B.C.

Canyon bat recorded at Skaha Bluffs near Penticton

It hasn’t been seen yet, but new species of bat has been heard making its way into the Okanagan, joining the roughly 14 species of bats already in the province.

Writing in the Okanagan Bats newsletter, biologist Mike Sarell said the echolocation calls of the canyon bat have been recorded at multiple locations in the Skaha Bluffs area.

“Early spring recordings suggest that they may even be hibernating in the park,” he wrote. “It’s weak flight makes it more apt to live in canyons where it is protected from strong wind.”

An example of Canyon Bat echolocation call sequence from Skaha Bluffs near Penticton. Courtesy Okanagan Community Bat Program.

The canyon bat is a very small bat, found in rugged deserts in western North America. Its call was recorded once before in B.C. several years ago, west of Osoyoos. But as this was a single incident, the B.C. Bat Conservation Centre considered it accidental.

Biologist Orville Dyer is also cautious about these latest recordings, noting that the audio recordings are still a little uncertain.

“If you get the right one and it is nice and clean, you can separate bat species with fair confidence, not 100 per cent confidence,” said Dyer. “We will wait for a capture in hand, or some genetic evidence — sometimes we can analyze bat guano — before we actually confirm that it is truly here.”

Dyer said it is possible the canyon bat has been living in B.C. for some time, just in numbers too low to be detected.

A new session of bat counts began July 11, running to Aug. 5, with bat watchers through B.C. being asked to do at least two counts at roosts they are observing.

Margaret Holm, with the Okanagan Community Bat Program, explains that a count earlier this year focused on adult bats, but this one is on the maternal colonies. Female bats give birth to a single pup, and now are starting to teach them to fly.

Related: Keeping track of bats in the Okanagan

“This is the second count period. If it is a good year, you are probably counting twice as many bats at the same location as you did six weeks ago,” said Holm. “We’ve had some hot weather, but fairly good weather in general, so I would think that it’s been a good year.”

Holm added bats are specific about the time they come out, which is at twilight, about 9:15 p.m. at this time of year.

“They will all come out within 20 minutes to half an hour of each other,” said Holm. “I know the Okanagan Bat Program really appreciates people helping in a consistent way. For instance, making a commitment to count once or twice during the summer and send in their results.“

With the exit hole from the colony located, she explained, it’s as easy as setting up a lawn chair and counting the bats as they emerge. Some colonies, like ones in barns, might have more than one exit, making a count more complicated.

“But you only count them once as they exit. You don’t count the ones that are flying around,” said Holm. “It is kind of a neat thing for people to do. Some people have told me their bats come out from under their dock.”

Audio counts are also done, conducted by specialized teams. Dyer said using the audio sensor reveals a whole new world of bats.

“It is a really something to go outside with a bat detector. You can see some bats, but with the detector, you can hear them and they are way more numerous than you can imagine,” said Dyer. “You can look up and you won’t see them, but you can hear them on the detector.”

Related: Researchers eavesdropping on Okanagan bats


Steve Kidd
Senior reporter, Penticton Western News
Email me or message me on Facebook
Follow us on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Just Posted

This week in photos | The spirit of giving comes to Haida Gwaii

Masset Lions Telethon, Queen Charlotte’s annual craft fair, Fields store coming along in Skidegate

Snowfall warning continues for parts of B.C.’s Interior

First significant snowfall of the season prompts Environment Canada warning

Northwest B.C. wildlife shelter rescues particularly tiny bear cub

Shelter co-founder says the cub weighs less than a third of what it should at this time of year

Masset residents receiving extra incentive to get home safe this holiday season

Masset RCMP, B.C. Liquor Store and local elementary schools team up to curb drinking and driving

Former Burns Lake mayor gets two years for sexual assaults against minors

Banned from taking work involving young people for five years

VIDEO: SNL skewers Trudeau’s mockery of Trump in high school cafeteria sketch

The three world leaders won’t let Trump sit at the cool kids’ table

B.C. universities post $340 million worth of surpluses thanks to international student tuition

Students call for spending as international enrolment produces huge surpluses at many universities

Conservatives urge Morneau to deliver ‘urgent’ fall economic update

Morneau says the first thing the Liberals plan to do is bring in their promised tax cut for the middle class

INFOGRAPHIC: How much money did your local university or college make last year?

B.C. university and colleges posted a combined $340 million surplus in 2018/19

B.C. creates $8.5M organization to improve safety for health care workers

Group will bring together unions, province, health care organizations

Kovrig clings to humour as ‘two Michaels’ near one year in Chinese prison

Their detention is widely viewed as retaliation for Canada’s arrest of Chinese high-tech scion Meng Wanzhou

B.C. VIEWS: An engine that hums right along

First Nations are leading a new surge of investment in B.C.

Brain injury from domestic abuse a ‘public health crisis,’ says B.C. researcher

Nearly 80% of the domestic violence victims who reported to police last year were women

Most Read