||Free wild "bat show" playing nightly in Phoenix
Jul 11, 2006
PHOENIX - You can catch a free wildlife show every night in Phoenix for the next several weeks, as hundreds of bats swarm over a special bat-viewing deck near the Biltmore area. The Arizona Game and Fish Department and the Flood Control District of Maricopa County created the viewing deck area just outside a flood control tunnel that bats use as a maternity colony in late spring and summer.
"This is a great opportunity for people who live in the city to get a real wildlife treat without having to drive very far," says Nancy Renison, an Arizona Game and Fish Department biologist who works on the Arizona Bat Conservation Partnership.
Most of the bats in the tunnel are Mexican free-tailed bats, a type of bat found throughout Arizona in the summertime. These bats have a wingspan of 11 to 13 inches, and roost in caves, mine tunnels, crevices in bridges, parking garages and buildings. The bats primarily feed on moths, mosquitoes and other insects that come out at night.
"Right now, you can see a steady stream of bats leaving the tunnel for their nightly flights to find food," says Renison. "The show starts just after sunset and runs for about 45 minutes."
"We encourage the public to experience this environmental education opportunity," says Theresa Pinto, a project manager for the Flood Control District of Maricopa County. "If you've never seen anything like this before, you won't be disappointed. The bats put on quite a show!"
The urban bat-viewing area is near the intersection of 40th Street and Camelback Road, adjacent to an office complex at 5080 N. 40th Street. From the intersection, head north on 40th Street. As you look for parking, please remember to respect private property and restricted areas. The path to the tunnel is located on the north side of the Arizona Canal. Walk west on the path about 200 yards, past office buildings and a parking garage. Then head north about 20 feet from the gravel path along the canal to a paved path. Walk on the paved path to the top of the tunnel, where you'll find the viewing area and signage.
Special bat-viewing signs were paid for by the Arizona Game and Fish Department Heritage Fund, which uses money from Arizona Lottery ticket sales for conservation efforts, such as protecting endangered species, educating our children about wildlife, helping urban residents coexist with wildlife, and creating new opportunities for outdoor recreation.
You can also learn more about bats by going to the Arizona Game and Fish Department's Web site at azgfd.gov. The department even offers free bat-themed lesson plans at the Web site to Arizona schools and teachers.