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

In One Night promises to delve into broken relationships

The New Vintage Theatre play will run late November in Kelowna

Recognition for Mazu website founder Janice Taylor

Kelowna woman awarded alumni of distinction honour by Campion College

Kelowna child care centre selected to deliver low-cost universal child care

Kelowna’s Little Scholars program has qualified

Proportional representation not proving popular with voters in Central Okanagan

With three weeks to go, fewer than 9,400 referendum votes cast in three area ridings

Rockets lose double header to Winterhawks

Rockets fell 4-2 Sunday night

VIDEO: Marvel Comics’ Stan Lee dies

Marvel co-creator was well-known for making cameo appearances in superhero movies

B.C. health care payroll tax approved, takes effect Jan. 1

Employers calculating cost, including property taxes increases

Mother of missing Shuswap woman holds out hope she’ll be found

Nicole Bell’s mom urges public to report any information that might help

Nunavut urges new plan to deal with too many polar bears

Territory recommends a proposal that contradicts much of conventional scientific thinking

Review: Okanagan Symphony dazzles with Verdi’s Requiem

Remembrance offering was months in the making

Video: Historic South Okanagan restaurant closes

Bittersweet ending for open mic night patrons and musicians in Penticton

Shelter struggles: Landlord takes over rental unit whenever visiting B.C. town

Renter’s story highlights how hard it is to find accommodation in Revelstoke

Summerland fallen soldier honoured in Alberta

Percy Broad called to the bar, more than a century after his death in battle

Lack of public response threatens B.C. referendum credibility

Of the few who have voted, poll finds most rejected proportional representation

Most Read