I took a walk with Bill on August 12, 2013, out our goldenrod-spangled meadow. It was a misty, dewy morning and everything was shrouded in moisture.
I thought about that bat all day. Did some riffling through field guides, and finally decided it must be an eastern pipistrelle, with that pink muzzle and bare eye skin, those long, upswept ears and that multicolored fur. As much as I hated to disturb it twice in a single day, I was afraid that it might be a one-day wonder. Bill said, "Better go back before twilight and get more pictures." Right. Because when does the Science Chimp get a chance like this?
Perimyotus subflavus, the eastern pipistrelle, is the only member of its genus. It is not a true pipistrelle (Pipistrellus), but rather something different, and the monotypic genus reflects this. Science Chimps love monotypic genera.
I headed back out the dimming meadow. Early goldenrod abloom everywhere. Or maybe it's tall goldenrod. I have little conversance with goldenrods. Too busy with birds, bugs, bats. If forced, I can key them out. Mostly I just look at them.
Once again, I called my iPhone into play, because its macro capabilities simply outstrip my beloved Canon G-12. I had to have a camera that would reliably focus on the bat, flash free, in a low-light situation, so I wouldn't come away with a sharp picture of the edge of the box, for instance, with a blurry brown mass inside. You can touch the item of desire on the screen of your iPhone, asking it to focus just on that. So I pointed the phone camera at the bat, touched the bat's image, and the camera focused on the bat. Boom.
UPDATE: Facebook is a marvelous thing. For instance, I'm Facebook friends with the person who wrote and illustrated Houghton Mifflin Harcourt's Field Guide to Mammals of North America. Her name is Fiona Reid. And after I posted a link to this blogpost, I got this comment from Fiona.
Fiona Reid Hi Julie, sorry to burst your bubble 'n all, but that ain't no pipistrelle, It is definitely a Myotis. Could be little brown or northern Long-eared (which tends to be a bit paler around eye and underside, but it is quite hard to separate these two species in hand let alone by photos). Pips have much pinker faces and ears, plus they have tricolor fur, light/dark/light, the wing bones are pinkish and thumbs also pinkish.
And it did burst my bubble, a little, not because it's not a new species for me, but mostly because I despair of ever being able to tell one durn bat from another. This bat's forearms and face look really pink to me. I can't really say whether the fur looks tricolored. The tragus looks longer than it probably should be for a pipistrelle (here, the Kaufman Focus Guide to Mammals of North America shows that better). But I gladly yield to Fiona's expertise. Whether it's a pipistrelle or a Myotis, it's a little gift and a miracle, and it's in our bluebird box. It will be loved and welcomed no less for being something other than a pipistrelle. It's a bat and I'm still all asquee!