It’s all chalk and mirrors!
A cross section of the "Lindecke funnel" designed by Oliver Lindecke to study migratory bats' launch patters. Illus by O. Lindecke.

Hi everyone! I hope you all had a good week! I am excited because this Sunday, the 29th, there will be a NatureFest at Runnymede Park in Herndon, VA. There will be many stations around the park where you can learn about butterflies, bees, and many more nature themed booths. And of course, there will be bats! Save Lucy the Bat will be at Booth 23! The event is free and open from 1-5 PM. If you’d like more information, please visit the park’s website.

While reading about batty news, I found an article about an experiment that was published in April. A wildlife researcher in Germany named Oliver Lindecke was studying bat migration. He wanted to know how bats knew where to fly. He needed to see what direction bats flew when they left their roosts. By creating a bat box with chalk at the bottom, he was able to have the bats crawl through the chalk before they flew away. When they flew, the chalk would help Lindecke see the path they had taken.

To test his experiment box, he captured 54 soprano pipistrelle bats while they were migrating along the coast of the Baltic Sea. His research showed that the adult bats flew in the direction they took off in. They also flew west of the sunset. In order to see if the bats just preferred flying west of the box or if they were using the sunset as a sort of landmark, he turned the box around and placed a mirror in front of it. The bats would look at the reflection and fly to the east, which they thought was west. He also tested his experiment on juvenile bats. This experiment had interesting results. The younger bats flew every which way and didn’t care if the sunset was there or not. This proves that the younger bats learn which way is correct from watching their elders. 

If you want to learn more about Lindecke’s experiment you can do so here.

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