Sat. Feb 24th, 2024

Today’s post comes from Natural Heritage Education Supervisor, Alistair MacKenzie, and Bat Management Technician, Heather Sanders.

Did you know that Pinery Provincial Park has been an important site for bat research for more than four decades? We have collaborated with research groups at the University of York, Western University and the University of Waterloo.

Much of what we know about Ontario bats, including their migration, diet and behavior, is due to the work done at the Pinery.

The Friends of Pinery Park, with a grant from the Species at Risk Stewardship Fund (SARSF), are supporting a project focused on the endangered little brown Myotis.

staff working on bat boxes

Our goal is to improve our knowledge of bat biology and behavior, as well as improve our understanding of how white-nose syndrome is affecting bat populations in the Pinery.

Our work consists of two main components: research and education.

Investigation

Over the past few years, we have built and erected nearly 40 four-chamber, rocket-box-style bat boxes throughout the park.

With the help of a team of bat researchers from the University of Waterloo (led by Dr. Hugh Broders), we captured, tagged and released bats into the park with PIT (passive integrated transponder) tags. These tags can be identified by readers installed in our bat boxes.

This allows us to track individual bat movement through the park to better understand the factors involved in roost selection and bat colony movement.

In 2018, we received funding to purchase and install the first three PIT tag readers!

To further increase bat habitat in the park, we have also built and erected a large community “bat condo.”

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This design was successfully tested in Wisconsin and is capable of housing up to 3,000 Little Brown Myotis bats. Our condo opened for winged renters in October 2018 and can be found near Pinery’s Outdoor Theater.

bat condo

Additionally, we have placed several bat recorders in the park to record the high-pitched echolocation calls that bats use to supplement their night vision. These recordings are being analyzed to identify species and allow us to monitor changes in bat populations in the park.

Education

staff with tracker

As part of this project, we have designed numerous new bat resources, including information cards, postcards, posters and bat box plans.

They are available to guests free of charge at the Visitor Center.

Additionally, naturalists and researchers lead several different bat education programs and talks throughout the summer and at special events in the park and surrounding community.

Do you want to help our project?

Donate

Important research and management work like this project cannot be successful without the funds necessary to hire field staff, purchase equipment and supplies, and produce reports and educational content.

Little brown bat

The sophisticated PIT acoustic and reading technology is expensive and requires elaborate solar charging equipment to provide power to remote areas of the park.

Support the Friends of Pinery Park bat stewardship project by making a charitable donation through Canada Helps, writing a check, or participating in one of our annual fundraising events, such as the annual raffle or the Pinery Fall Classic.

Participate in our Citizen Science Project

We need your help!

Bat detectors pick up the high-frequency sounds that bats use to “see” at night and make them audible to the human ear.

Little brown bat

Come to the Visitor Center to rent a bat detector for up to two nights! Explore the park, listen for the bats, and record what you find.

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When you return your detector to the Visitor Center, mark your finds on our map or submit your sightings on your mobile phone via the Explore the Pinery appavailable for free on the App Store or Play Store.

Note: Borrowing a bat detector requires a refundable hold on your credit card in the value of the equipment.

build bat boxes

Historically, little brown Myotis bats roost in hollow trees during the summer months. Unfortunately, most are killed by people who think they are dangerous or ugly.

Give bats a place to stay during the day and raise their young during the summer months by building or purchasing a bat box. Providing these boxes encourages bats to use them instead of moving into your own home.

Download bat house plans from Bat Conservation International.

Plant native species

Bats eat flying insects and many only live on native species of trees and shrubs. The more native species there are in your area, the more bats, birds and other wildlife you will see!

evening primroseevening primrose

Button (Cephalanthus occidentalis), Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis), and New England Aster (Symphyotrichum new england) all help provide food for the bats.

Learn about bats

These fascinating animals are very unique. They deserve our appreciation and respect.

Learn by:

  • come to one of the Pinery bat programs or night walks
  • borrow a bat detector to look for bats yourself
  • Picking up informational materials about bats at the Visitor Center.
  • book a class trip to Pinery Provincial Park
  • reading our featured post on the bat creature

For more information, see:

Assistance for this project was provided by the Government of Ontario.

Additional funding was provided by the Toronto Dominion Friends of the Environment Foundation (TDFEF).