There were many nights when I never thought I'd see what you're about to see. It was odd--the bats just sort of coasted along, taking baby steps, until bam! one fine night they were ready for release. And yet…each night there was a little improvement. Mirabel, always the logy flier, makes two circuits of the tent without landing. And then two and a half. And then three. Stella does four, each small step forward a fresh cause for celebration. I’d come in and tell Bill and the kids what the bats had done that night.
This video was taken on The Big Night, May 13, when there was no question in my mind that these bats needed to be OUT and AWAY from this flight tent that had been their home for the last month. That they were wild things and they could take care of themselves perfectly well, no more coddling, no more dishes of mealworms. They were onto moths in the clear night sky now; they would be finding a roost with other bats. Maybe Mirabel would even be delivering her baby soon, if baby there be. And Stella? A mate would find her this fall and the cycle would begin all over again. I hoped that she wouldn't find her way into a heated house in February again, hoped that they'd both be good girls and not go spelunking in walls or roosting in backpacks. I hoped the weather would treat them right this coming winter, would lull them to sleep and keep them there, not send them out looking for moths on a 65-degree night when there were no moths to be had.
I hoped that they'd both live into their 30's and that I'd never see them again. Most of all, I thanked them for all they'd taught me. Through their example, I'd know how to treat any bats that came my way in the future, and by writing about it, I could teach others what to do and what NOT to do for these dear little waifs of the winter night.
Astute viewers will also note my bare fingers being used to prod Mirabel back into flight. Well, I can't operate the video camera with gloves on, can I? Rest assured that a. this is the first time I'd touched either of them with bare hands and b. they'd been in "quarantine" for more than 100 days (the recommended time is 41 days) and they were most certainly not rabid and c. it felt fantastic to finally touch those cool fine membranes and that impossibly soft moley fur.
Next: Where to put them??