Bats get cold and fall onto ground in Autumn; they need a warm-up treat


Bat alert and ready to go after warming up.

Bats in New York City are falling wearily onto sidewalks in our recent sudden cold spell. This morning I found one–at first mistaking the gray fur for a dead mouse. I got sticks to move it out of the pathway chopsticks-style. And then the poor thing┬ástarted hissing at me. A completely empty threat as it was still too weak to get up. I picked the bat up in a plastic bag–as a dog owner, I always have plenty–and brought it to warm up in the sun. Still nothing.

I carried the bat home in one hand and pushed the stroller and held the beagle leash in the other. I was afraid to put the bat bag in my pocket because I could either suffocate the bat or end up having to reach into a pocket with a bat. In New York bats are a rabies vector species–meaning they potentially carry the disease. I would need a higher grade wildlife rehabilitator license to take care of one, but that wasn’t my intention. I just wanted to foist it off on someone qualified or get instructions on a quick release. I reached out to some wildlife rehabilitators.

Seemingly dead bat. Don't pick one up with your bare hands.

Seemingly dead bat. Don’t pick one up with your bare hands.

Meanwhile, I warmed up the bat under an incandescent bulb. I went looking for bugs, lacking mealworms, the preferred food of captive bats. My daughter Ginger, 4, eagerly helped me hunt for spider webs and then, failing that, collect acorns to soak to find weevils. No luck. My poor cleaning habits paid off: inside a light fixture I found dead bugs. I added them to warm honey water and served them up on a straw. The bat grabbed and licked the straw. And then she or he started to feel better, began climbing around.

Right now I’m reading the educational and entertaining book The Secret Life of Bats by Merlin Tuttle, the bat man of Austin. He tells of learning to become a professional-level photographer to get pictures out of bats that weren’t terrifying. As the tiny bat hissed and chomped its tiny teeth, I thought of his difficulties. I would need a lot more time to get to see this bat’s sweeter side, but it’s best to move the wildlife back to the wild quickly.

Marty Bast, effectively the game keeper of Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, offered to release her properly once she warmed up. He said this was the third bat found in this sleepy, cold torpor on the ground in the last two weeks. People often think they’re dead and go to pick them up with bare hands, then get bit. That leads to these bats getting euthanized and the person getting preventative rabies vaccines. Not only does the cold slow them down, it reduces the number of insects out there for them to eat.

New York has nine bat species. I’m not sure if this one was a little brown bat (which hibernates in caves) or a silver-haired bat (Lasyionicterius noctivagans) which migrates.

If the bat hits a tree and falls, they can’t take off again from the ground. So, you release them on a tree, not on the ground. Bast found a sunny tree near where I’d found the bat a couple hours earlier. He removed her from my cage with special bite-proof gloves. She quickly but awkwardly climbed up the tree to safety. When he gets calls for a live bat not moving on the ground, he warms them up and lets them go.


Praying Mantis Clumsily Eats Bees in Brooklyn

This praying mantis lady is eating a bee.

Praying mantises aren’t rare or graceful, but a treat to see. How do bees not notice this lobster-like monster sitting on a flower? This mantis in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park lurked on a flower, then lunged on two bees and tore them to pieces.

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Puffins near Portland

Puffin swims by tour boat

Puffins, one of the oddest, most charming and hardest to see birds to see in the United States, but it’s getting easier because their numbers on Eastern Egg Rock, a southern Maine island hit a record 148 pairs in 2014. Warming water temperature threatened the efforts of Project Puffin to bring the cartoonish seabird back to its lost colonies.

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Most dog (and kid) friendly beach in New England? Plymouth

Plymouth Long Beach

Plymouth, MA, lets you bring your dog on a summer day–which sets it apart from most of New England which has taken to banning dogs during some hours, all summer or just forever.

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Cardinals finally let me see them raise babies in Brooklyn

Cardinal Nest

Cardinals feed babies fresh bugs in nest you could see if you knew where to look in Prospect Park.

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5-0 on the Long Meadow: Cops bust French bulldog meetup in Prospect Park

Cops give ticket to least threatening person in the park: a young mom pushing a stroller and attending a French bulldog meetup.

The City of New York executed a daring undercover raid on a menacing group of French bulldog owners meeting in Prospect Park’s Long Meadow on a recent Saturday morning. Their crime: having their miniature dogs off leash past the 9 a.m. curfew in a park obsessed with the enforcement of dog rules.

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Peter Capaldi's Leonardo da Vinci loves animals, mocks humans


With Peter Capaldi–a proven choice for the smartest man in the universe–you come away impressed with Leonardo’s love of animals and maybe a little creeped out by his anger at humans.

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Dogs Can No Longer Walk into Famous Brooklyn Bar

dog walks up to a bar

One of New York City’s most famously dog-friendly bar, The Gate, in Park Slope says it will no longer allow them because it was busted under the city’s outdated health code.

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Did a Hunter Leave a Dead Bear in Central Park to Teach New Yorkers a Lesson?


Releasing predators in Central Park play a huge role in the fantasies and rhetoric of hunters. Could one have planted a dead black bear cub scare New Yorkers? Seems like somebody with access to dead wildlife was trying to make a point.

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Parks Service Wants to Hunt Fire Island Deer Again

deer eating corn

Watch out Fire Island deer! The Parks Service wants you out of the way of their holly plants. And tourists, if you like seeing deer, too bad. The parks service wants to cut down on “negative human-deer interactions,” which it seems to define as anything that isn’t hunting.

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