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  • It’s bat season on The Loop

    Sep 24, 2021 | Read More News
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    Did you know that almost 40,000 Mexican free-tail bats live under the Campbell Avenue bridge? And more than 20,000 bats live under the Broadway bridge over the Pantano Wash. You won’t see them during the day along The Chuck Huckelberry Loop, but fall is peak season to see bats in action at sunset.
     A bat sculpture along The Loop, where many bats make their home under bridges
    throughout Pima County

    The Loop is a great place to watch them fly en masse from their resting place under the bridges. Thousands of bats might look like a big funnel as they swirl into the evening sky. 

    Why bridges? Because they’re safe and cool. The expansion joints provide a perfect home for these bats. The deep grooves give bats a perfect spot for their young because the temperature remains consistent. In fact, to protect the expansion joints, the Pima County Department of Transportation in 2014 installed special bat boxes where bats can roost.

    Mexican free-tail bats hunt at night for insects, including moths, beetles, dragonflies and ants. These bats are long distance flyers, foraging up to 30 miles from their roosts. All that flying requires a lot of calories; in fact, they might eat half their weight in insects each night.

    Bridges are cool for young bats and their parents in the summer, but Tucson winters are a little too cool for them. The Mexican free-tail bats will migrate to warmer places in Mexico and Central America starting in October. They soar the highest of any other species of bat: up to 10,000 feet — higher than Mount Lemmon!

    You may also see other bats common in Pima County: pallid bats, silver-haired bats, cave myotis, California myotis, Yuma myotis, western pipistrelle and the big brown bat.

    Some species feed on insects. Others drink nectar from flowers, just like hummingbirds. Occasionally, the lesser long-nosed bat is found under local bridges. This bat does not eat insects, instead, it slurps nectar from saguaro and agave blossoms.

    For your safety, always watch bats from a distance. Never pick up a live bat on the ground. A live bat on the ground is a bat with problems, like rabies. 

    Find additional bat bridges on The Loop at:
    • Ina Bridge over the Santa Cruz River
    • East Tanque Verde Bridge over the Rillito Creek
    • First Avenue Bridge over the Rillito Creek