Archive | March 2016

Going Batty

A biologist holds an young-of-the-year Indiana Bat caught with a net placed in the air over a logging road in Orwell, Vt., Tuesday evening, July 17, 2001. Teams of scientists have been fanning out across Addison County this week trying to learn the summer habits of the endangered Indiana bats. (AP Photo/Alden Pellett)A bat may not be as cute as a button, but like buttons, bats certainly hold things together in a healthy ecosystem. Bats devour millions of mosquitoes every night. Bats pollinate flowers that produce fruit. Bats produce guano, or bat poop, which is very useful as a fertilizer to help grow crops. Without bats, clouds of bugs would drive us batty. Without bats we would miss out on quite a few fruits like mangoes, bananas and peaches.

Bats with White-Nose Fungus

Bats with White-Nose Fungus

Many species of bats are now seriously endangered. A spreading fungus has wiped out large numbers and bat habitats have been taken over by humans. It’s not easy being a bat.

Going Batty

Minor Epauletted Bat from Kenya

Minor Epauletted Bat from Kenya

It’s not so easy being me

I’m an endangered bat, you see

Not many think I’m very cute

With stringy wings and fuzzy suit



I should be loved, because I try

Echo-Locating Dinner

Echo-Locating Dinner

To eat the pests that multiply

I nightly dine on bugs that bite

By echo-dining while in flight



The farmers think we bats are great

We help the plants we pollinate

But though we’re popular on farms


Bat Pollinating Flower

Most other folk don’t see our charms



The darling Pandas get the press

Us bats are jealous, we confess

But we work hard from dusk till dawn

The world will miss us when we’re gone


What can we do to help these vulnerable critters? One thing that helps is to build bat houses. Did you know that Batman, from the new movie version, has come to the rescue of bats? The cast and crew of the upcoming movie, “Batman vs. Superman; the Dawn of Justice.” have made over a hundred new bat houses from the materials taken from the movie sets. If you weren’t able to buy one of those houses, you can make your own and give your local bats a place to safely roost. Here is a link to building houses for bats: National Wildlife Federation Bat House Plans

Bat Boxes

Dolphin Dirge

From the "Ocean Treasures Memorial Library"

When an animal becomes “critically endangered” there is a real possibility that it may soon become extinct. The Irrawaddy Dolphin is one critter that tragically lands in this critically endangered category. In the Mekong River, where these freshwater dolphins used to thrive, now only about 80 dolphins remain. Image from WWF

Their numbers decrease as they get tangled up in fishermen’s nets and drown. They are not fish, of course; they are mammals and they need to come up to the surface to breathe. There are other, safer methods to catch fish, but fishermen often want to catch many fish in a very short amount of time. And so they use large nets that capture everything inside, even creatures that the fishermen have no interest in eating or selling…. like Irrawaddy Dolphins.

Irrawaddy Dolphin

Irrawaddy Dolphin

These are one of the smallest types of dolphins. They have lovely, smooth skin and charming smiles and are beautiful to watch as they play in the wild. We should be doing all we can to protect these beloved beasts. A “dirge” is a poem sometimes read at a funeral when there is a death. I hope that this “Irrawaddy Dolphin Dirge” might help educate people about this delightful dolphin. Perhaps more dolphin deaths will be avoided.


Irrawaddy Dolphin Dirge

Oh, the world has been quite naughty

To the Dolphin Irrawaddy

These poor creatures get all tangled up in nets

And I think it rather tragic

We can’t rescue them by magic

But we must do something lest the world forgets


When the beasts start disappearing

Then the humans’ end is nearing

And the change depends on you as well as me

If you think it doesn’t matter

This “endangered species” chatter

Then you’re not as smart as you pretend to be

— Ruth Gilmore Ingulsrud

Photo by Roland Seitre for WWF

63-Year Old Mama Has a New Chick!

Wisdom, the Laysan Albatross who makes her home-nest on Midway Atoll, has just hatched out another healthy baby chick. WisdomwithChick She is the oldest known bird in the world, having been banded when she was about five years old. It is estimated that she has raised over 36 chicks. One of her chicks even survived the March 11, 2011 tsunami that resulted from the disastrous earthquake in Japan.

Wisdom’s story is beautifully told in a book by Darcy Pattison, “Wisdom, the Midway Albatross.” The tsunami on March 11 rushed toward Midway Atoll where Wisdom and thousands of other birds were nesting. About 110,000 baby chick died along with over 2,000 adult birds, but somehow Wisdom and her chick survived.

An albatross has many survival challenges. It must avoid being eaten by sharks as it swoops down to the ocean to scoop up tasty squid. It has to wisely avoid eating the many pieces of plastic floating on the waves. It also has to avoid getting tangled in fishing lines or nets. People can do much to help these beautiful birds survive. We can use safe fishing techniques, clean up the oceans and protect the albatross nesting areas.

We hope that Wisdom will continue to have a long and amazing life. She is an inspiration to us all!

by Darcy Pattison

This entry was posted on March 7, 2016. 2 Comments