More than My Fair Share of Bats (and that's okay)

I've always found bats to be beautiful and intriguing.

Imagine you have webs between your fingers—fingers that are longer than your bodyand when you open and close your hands you can fly.  That is pretty wak, y'all. 

That's what bats do.






Here is a recounting of all the ways bats have shown up in my life. I'm pretty sure my Average Rate of Bat Encounter (or, "AROBE") is higher than average. See what you think.  


Bats in My Childhood Home

Growing up, bats often made the mistake of trying to nest in our basement. If you opened the basement door, you could hear the little buggers squeaking in the dark.  It was a little eepy-craaaay

Anyway, each bat's tenancy was short-lived because, as I said, moving in was a mistake: we had a cat who specialized in hunting bats.

You can bet our cat's rabies shots were always up-to-date.

That cat must have been quite the huntress because bats are agile fliers. Once, I found just the wings of a bat that the cat had eaten... surprise 

Being the lover of creepy-crawlies AND Halloween that I was, I asked if I could keep them.

My parents were such sticks-in-the-mud.


Bats in My Childhood Bedroom (sort of)

Every year on October 1st, I decorated my room with orange and black crepe paper streamers and all things Halloween. Of course, there were always bats hanging from everything. I still have one of them and it hangs from my porch every Halloween. 


Bats in My Education

Before I was an artist, I was a scientist. I went to "Biology Bootcamp" in Costa Rica where I was lucky to have a teacher who studied bats. He used mist nets to catch them and I was particularly thrilled when he caught a vampire bat. Their teeth are razor-sharp (literally) and getting close enough to take this photo (I didn't have a zoom lens, y'all) gave me the heebie-jeebies.  

On the same trip, I stayed in an open-air field station. We slept in an open loft, where bats (the Greater Sac-winged Bat, Saccopteryx bilineata; NOT vampire bats) nested in the rafters during the day.  

They are CUTE.  See?

They have expressive, Dobbie ears; cute little toes; beautiful, white zig-zags on their backs; and positively adorable little "smiles." 



That's me in the sleeping loft (a lifetime ago...).

There are bats in the nooks and crannies of the rafters. 

When it got ridiculously hot in the afternoon and there was nothing to do but metabolize, I'd hang out under my mosquito net and admire the cute little bats in the rafters.


Bats in My City

After graduate school, I moved to Austin, TX, home to the largest urban colony of bats in North America. At the beginning of the summer, there are about 1 million bats.  By the end of summer, there are about 1.5 million. 

This is the Congress Street Bridge in Austin, TX. 

The colony of Mexican free-tailed bats lives under it in the summer.

If you visit Austin, you MUST see the bats emerge in the evening.  It is truly spectacular. 

Pro Bat-watcher Tip: Watch from the bridge, not the shore below the bridge. If you require further explanation, you could sit on the shore below the bridge, but bring an umbrella you don't care about.


Bats in Costumes

I love Halloween and until I had kids of my own to costume, loved to do creative costumes every year.  One of my favorites was one I don't have a decent photo of, but I did find the "components" to show you. 

On the left is a "street" that was pinned to the back of my shirt. The flurry of Halloween garland tinsel that has tiny bats was on the front of my shirt. When I put my hands on my knees, I became the Congress Street Bridge!  ...  Like the bridge in Austin with all the bats?...  Aw c'mon...  I thought it was pretty clever...  


Bats in Motherhood

One of the great things about being a Mom is making costumes for my kids.  

Here, we have "Stella Luna" for Favorite Book Day in Elementary School.

And now.....


Bats in My Art

When I first saw the bare branches in this image, I saw the scalloped line of branches on the left and immediately thought  IT'S  A  BAT  WING!  And here you have it:

See the scalloped branch that defines the bat's right wing?!  Pretty cool, right?!

"Winged Pursuit"


There are other stories, but it's time to go to bed...

Tell me your bat stories.  I'm all ears! 

Be well, y'all.