GOT BATS? We want to hear of your sightings!

Zara Dowling, a graduate student at UMass-Amherst, received a research grant from the Nantucket Biodiversity Initiative this spring to study and document the bat species on Nantucket. Zara has been working with the Nantucket Conservation Foundation’s Science and Stewardship Staff to record the calls of bats throughout the summer. You may have already noticed these bat detectors on some of our properties, including Squam Farm and Stump Pond.

IMG_0930These detectors are charged by solar panels and are set to record from dusk to dawn whenever high frequency sounds are detected. So far, Zara has confirmed the presence of red and hoary bats on island.


Hoary bat (L) and Eastern red bat (R) Photos courtesy of Bat Conservation International

We also need help from Nantucketers! Zara is  interested in collecting observations of bats from local residents. We currently know very little about bat populations on the island, but Nantucket could be providing important habitat to these species. Migratory tree bats, which fly thousands of miles between their summer and winter habitat, often use coastal areas during their fall migration southward, and there are records of these species on the island. Nantucket’s isolation from the mainland might also allow it to serve as a refuge for hibernating bat populations, which have seen declines of 90-99% in much of the Northeast, associated with the spread of the fungal disease known as White Nose Syndrome. The Northern Long-Eared Bat, now Endangered in Massachusetts and federally listed as Threatened, continues to persist on neighboring Martha’s Vineyard, perhaps because of reduced exposure to the disease. Whether Nantucket, with its more open, less forested habitat, could also provide space for these rare bats remains to be seen. Let us know what’s happening in your yard!

DO YOU HAVE BATS CURRENTLY ROOSTING IN YOUR HOUSE OR BARN? Zara will be coming out for a few days later this summer, and can assist in identifying what bats you may have living there.

HAVE YOU SEEN BATS FORAGING OR ROOSTING IN YOUR AREA THIS YEAR OR IN PREVIOUS YEARS? Please send details, including 1) how many (1, 2-9, 10-25, over 25), 2) location (latitude and longitude or street address), 3) date or date range, 4) duration (one time or frequently, multiple years?), 5) roost habitat (in a tree, barn, house, umbrella, and any details about location, such as under eaves, tree species, etc), 6) foraging habitat (over water, in forest, along forest edge, over open field, etc.), and 7) any identifying features, or a photo if possible.

HAVE YOU FOUND A DEAD BAT? Please send a picture of the whole bat, with a quarter for scale, and a close-up photo of the face/ears. Don’t touch the bat with bare hands – bats are unlikely to, but do occasionally, carry rabies.

WANT MORE INFORMATION? Contact Zara at, or (413) 588-1618.

Any information you could provide regarding bat populations on Nantucket would be hugely appreciated! Please contact Zara to report your observations!