Holy walking tour, Batman! This past Friday, the American Museum of Natural History held the first of three evening bat walks through Central Park. Husband and wife team Brad Klein and Danielle Gustafson of the New York Bat Group share their knowledge of bats with New Yorkers interested in venturing into the park after dark, rabid raccoons be damned. The dynamic duo uses an electronic bat detector to track the bats by amplifying their high frequency chirps.
There are six species of bats in the park—none of which are of the blood sucking variety—sorry Twilight fans!—and they are out in full force after dark, feeding on the insects that thrive in the heat and humidity that has been torturing city residents this month (the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says, "One bat can eat between 600 and 1,000 mosquitoes and other insect pests in just one hour"). The bats occasionally swoop directly overhead, but you needn’t worry about them getting tangled in your hair because their sixth sense, echolocation, allows them to see you even in the dark. Although the fuzzy creatures resemble the rats you see on your daily commute, they aren’t related at all, so pigeons get to maintain their title as NYC’s official flying rodent.
The East Coast bat population is currently being decimated by a disease known as White Nose Syndrome, which has no known cause or cure, so these tours are especially timely. For more information about bats in New York City, you can check out the New York Bat Group’s Facebook page. If you’d like to check out the bats for yourself, there will be two additional bat walks on July 23 and July 30. Tickets are $30 each and information about the tour are available here for the 23rd and here for the 30th.