The bats have returned. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area is welcoming back the largest colony of Mexican free-tailed bats in California. The bats return each summer to give birth to their young and soar over the floodplain in a nightly bug-eating bonanza.
The public is invited to experience this amazing event as thousands of bats emerge each evening to hunt for insects over the rice fields of the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area, located just east of the city of Davis. Each year during bat “pupping” season, from June through September, the Yolo Basin Foundation offers “Bat Talk and Walk” tours. The tour begins with a 45-minute indoor presentation on bat natural history, after which attendees are shuttled to the outdoor viewing area to witness firsthand the spectacular aerial performance.
An estimated 250,000 Mexican free-tailed bats migrate to the area every summer to give birth under the shelter of the Yolo Causeway. The bats roost in the cement expansion joints and stream into the sky at dusk to feed, flying as high as two miles into the air.
“The sheer volume of bats roosting is incredible – it is a pretty amazing sight to see them fly out in ribbons,” explained Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area Manager Joe Hobbs. “This wildlife experience is a great family outing, since it’s in the evening when it’s not too hot and the Delta breeze is coming through. Bring a picnic dinner, and definitely bring insect repellent!”
The event lasts for about three hours. Advance reservations must be made online at http://yolobasin.org/battalkandwalks. Adult admission is $14 and children 15 and under are admitted free. Private tours are also available upon request. Those unable to walk may view the bats by car.
July Bat Talk and Walk Schedule: Monday, July 15; Monday, July 22; Saturday, July 27 and Tuesday, July 30 at 6:30 p.m.
August: Sunday, Aug. 4; Monday, Aug. 5; Thursday, Aug. 8; Monday, Aug. 12; Friday, Aug. 16; and Saturday, Aug. 17 at 6:15 p.m.; Tuesday, Aug. 20; Thursday, Aug. 22; Wednesday, Aug. 28; Friday, Aug. 30; and Saturday, Aug. 31 at 6 p.m.
September: Wednesday, Sept. 4 and Friday, Sept. 6 at 5:45 p.m.; Tuesday, Sept. 10; Thursday, Sept. 12 and Saturday, Sept. 14 at 5:30 p.m.; Monday, Sept. 16; Wednesday, Sept. 18 and Friday, Sept. 20 at 5:15 p.m.