Things are getting batty once again at the Department of Fish and Game’s (DFG) Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area. The Mexican free-tailed bats have returned to the Yolo Bypass as they do every summer to give birth to their young and to perform their spectacular bat ballet at sunset.
The public is invited to experience this amazing spectacle as thousands of bats emerge each evening to hunt for insects over the rice fields of the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area, located just east of the city of Davis. Each year during bat “pupping” season, from June through August, the Yolo Basin Foundation offers “Bat Talk and Walk” tours. The tours include a 45-minute indoor presentation on bat natural history and an outdoor excursion to the viewing site.
Corky Quirk, who leads the bat tours for the Foundation, has a particular fondness for these flying mammals. “Bats are very misunderstood and sometimes feared,” said Quirk. “They are the number one natural nighttime pest control, saving farmers millions of dollars as they consume large quantities of insects nightly.”
An estimated 250,000 Mexican free-tailed bats migrate to the causeway each summer and take up residence under the manmade structure, which provides a protective environment for the bats to give birth. The bats huddle together in the cement expansion joints and under the cover of night, they soar as high as two miles into the sky. They consume half their weight in insects each night. A colony of 1,000 bats will eat the equivalent of two brown grocery bags full of insects nightly.
This family friendly event lasts for about three hours and advanced reservations are required. Reservations can be made online at www.yolobasin.org/BatTalkAndWalk2012web.cfm. Adult admission is $10 and children 16 and under are free. Private tours are also available upon request. There is a $2 processing fee for each transaction.
The following is the schedule of public Bat Talk and Walk dates and times:
- Tuesday, June 19, 6:45 p.m.
- Friday, July 6, 6:45 p.m.
- Wednesday, July 11, 6:45 p.m.
- Friday, July 13, 6:30 p.m.
- Wednesday, July 18, 6:30 p.m.
- Tuesday, July 24, 6:30 p.m.
- Wednesday, Aug. 1, 6:30 p.m.
- Friday, Aug. 3, 6:30 p.m.
- Tuesday, Aug. 14, 6:15 p.m.
- Friday, Aug. 17, 6 p.m.
- Tuesday, Aug. 28, 6 p.m.
- Thursday, Aug. 30, 5:45 p.m.