#bioPGH Blog: A Bat Night Hike
May 25

#bioPGH Blog: A Bat Night Hike

By Dr. Maria Wheeler-Dubas, Research and Science Education Outreach Manager

Biophilia NetworkA resource of Biophilia: Pittsburgh, #bioPGH is a weekly blog and social media series that aims to encourage both children and adults to reconnect with nature and enjoy what each of our distinctive seasons has to offer. 

Subscribe to Posts Via Email


One night last summer, I was standing in my backyard, appreciating a lovely June evening. The night sky was dark and clear, dotted with little flecks of light from the stars. Around the shrubs and tree, fireflies glowed here and there and then over there. And in the stillness, I could faintly hear the high pitch chattering of furry, winged nighttime neighbors — bats! Even in the dark, the outline of a bobbing bat was clearly visible and distinctive from the silhouette of a bird in flight, and as I waved a mosquito away from my ear, I gave that little insectivore in the sky a nod. Enjoy your dinner, little friend, I thought appreciatively. What kind of bat was it I saw from my backyard? Admittedly, I didn’t get a close look, but it most likely was the big brown bat (Eptesicus fucus), the most common bat species in Pennsylvania. I’ve often wished to see a bat in person, just a little closer, in a way that was safe for both me and the bat — have you for this as well? If so, you’re in luck!

This year, to kick off Phipps’ annual BioBlitz, we are excited to announce that we will have our first ever night hike into Schenley Park to look for bats on Saturday, June 3, at 8:30 p.m., meeting at the Center for Sustainable Landscapes classroom. Biologists of GAI Consultants will be joining us with tools they use as a part of bat surveys to safely collect, monitor, and release bats; which means you may have a chance to see a bat up close! The evening will consist of an introductory classroom portion, followed by a trek into the park to check on mist nets that will have been set up earlier. At this point in the evening, we may or may not see bats; but we can head back up to the classroom to wait before returning to check for bats later.

A few important notes about the evening: we first want to be clear that we can’t guarantee seeing a bat up close — wildlife are the ones making the final decisions, not us humans! This activity is also unique in that it doesn’t have a set end time; it is also possible that it will take over an hour or two if we do see a bat. We will have activities and some light healthy snacks available while we wait and explore. This activity will also take place after sunset in Schenley Park. Bring comfortable shoes for walking and plan for being in a park at night. (This event may not be suitable for all children; please use discretion.) 

If you have any questions about this night hike, please let me know! You can email me at mwheeler-dubas@phipps.conservatory.org, and register for this night hike here on our website (this is the only BioBlitz activity that requires pre-registration due to its unique nature). Hope to see you there!

Little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus carissima), USFWS

Photo credits: Cover, USFWS, public domain; Header, public domain