Bats take flight in seasonal spectacle

Hundreds of thousands of Mexican free-tailed bats roost under a causeway in California.

After a dusty drive over the dirt roads of a rice farm, the caravan of cars stopped. We all exited our vehicles and moved to the front of the line. Dragonflies flitted over the tall, waving stalks of rice and mosquitoes began to appear in clouds. Tour leader Corky Quirk dropped a large box filled with bottles of OFF next to the orange cones she had set out. This was the 50-yard mark. We stood and waited while the sun set, because 50 yards in front of us, we were about to see 250,000 Mexican free-tailed bats take flight.

The Mexican free-tailed bat is one of the most widespread mammals in the western hemisphere. These tiny, 3.5-inch long flying mammals have a tail that is nearly half its body length, and while many species of bats have skin that creates a webbing between the tip of the tail and the body, called the uropatagium, the Mexican free-tailed bat’s uropatagium goes only about half way up the tail. Hence the name, free-tailed.

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About jensera

Jennifer Harrington is a Toronto-based illustrator, writer and graphic designer. She illustrated the best-selling children’s book series 'A Moose in a Maple Tree,' which includes the titles 'A Moose in a Maple Tree,' 'The Night Before a Canadian Christmas' and 'Canadian Jingle Bells.' She is also the owner of JSH Graphics, a boutique graphic design agency that specializes in print and web advertising. With her latest project, Eco Books 4 Kids, Jennifer has partnered with illustrator Michael Arnott to create a series of ecologically-themed ebooks for children. Her next book, 'Spirit Bear,' is due for release in the Summer of 2013. Jennifer offers two different school presentations for her 'Moose in a Maple Tree' collection, an illustration demonstration and a Christmas concert series, which can be booked at www.amooseinamapletree.com. She will be taking bookings for school readings of 'Spirit Bear' beginning in October 2013.

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