I went to my local nature center yesterday seeking inspiration for something to study and paint. I was hoping there might be something new in the collection—moths, butterflies, birds, nests. So when the staff said they had a hoary bat in the freezer, I had to admit it wasn’t quite what I had in mind. Though I appreciate that bats play a crucial role in pollination and insect control, the only bats I’ve ever seen have been the little brown bats I’ve wanted out of my house.
Still, how often does the opportunity to study a bat up close come along? I spent the next hour-and-a-half getting acquainted with this once living, breathing, flying creature. Incredible, really. The leathery wings, visible bone structure, fine markings, grasping thumb and tiny feet. Now, I’m happy to have it live on here between these pages, reminding me to keep seeking, seeing, and appreciating.
(Thanks to Thatcher Nature Center at John Boyd Thatcher State Park in New York for warmly welcoming artists.)
A bit more about hoary bats: Unlike a lot of bat species, hoary bats don’t hang out in caves. They prefer trees and tree cavities, flying out after sunset to catch insect prey. They tend to be solitary, except when migrating. Northern populations make long seasonal migrations to warmer habitats in winter. Females give birth to two pups from mid-May through early July. Young stay with their mother for about a month, until they are old enough to fly. Though widespread, these bats are seldom seen.