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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Bats are in very real danger, even north Texas bats

 Bats are in a life-or-death situation. There’s a very real possibility that they’ll become extinct, because of White Nose Syndrome ("WNS").

    So what, you say?! Bats are vicious (wrong!), are infested with rabies (wrong!), they suck your blood ( wrong!), they and are dirty (wrong again!). Poor little bats; they're probably the most misunderstood animals in existence.

 Truth is, we need bats for our very existence. Without bats, life as we know it wouldn’t exist.  Bats eat tons of insects.  Really – tons!  A single bat eats about 5000 flying insects per night, per bat! And bats pollinate a lot of plants (but we rarely see it, since it’s done at night).  Without bats, many of our everyday products (including some heart medicines and foods) wouldn’t exist.

    However, a fungal disease called White Nose Syndrome (“WNS”) is killing them by the thousands. It drains all their energy and interferes with needed hibernation. WNS is spreading rapidly. Scientists are looking for a remedy, but right now there is none. Homeowners can help by providing plenty of appropriately-built housing for bats, keeping bat houses clean and not killing their food by liberally spraying insecticides.
 Bat World is a non-profit group that does excellent work that few others want to do. There's simply no clearer way to say it. For over 20 years, this north Texas-based volunteer group has rescued (and released when possible) native bats. They could use your vote on the challenge web-site: . This video covers just a few rescues, and says why they're worthy of your gift.


Sunday, January 13, 2013

Birds sometimes share roosts on cold nights


In winter, birds often share warm, protected roost cavities with others of their species; everyone benefits from the cumulative body warmth. Usually, for example, Bluebirds share roosts with young Bluebirds they raised earlier in the year, but on particularly wet, cool or windy nights, a dozen or more unrelated birds may pile into a single roost cavity to keep warm, if they can find one.

    At our home, we simply set some sturdy boxes around, with entry holes near the bottom (so birds’ body heat can rise, but not escape). Unused birdhouses may work - depending on where the entrance hole is, it may have to be turned upside-down so the heat doesn't escape. Since birds roost at night, you may never actually see them, but you'll know they don’t die out in the cold, plus you'll have more birds around in coming seasons.

Survival of the fittest trees              When high winds blow down twigs and branches, we’re witnessing a little bit of evolution in action. Think about it. Those “blown off” leaflets, if not dead already, were the weak /insect-prone ones. The seeds associated with them, will never grow – the seeds from strong, remaining branches will!  Throughout the year it happens, and every year the trees’ “gene pool” gets a tiny bit healthier.