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Bat Signal: Lincoln Park Zoo Wants Your Help Finding Bats

By Chris Bentley in News on Nov 17, 2012 4:00PM

Lacking any reliable echolocation of their own, scientists at the Lincoln Park Zoo are crowd-sourcing their effort to find and catalogue Chicago's bats. Eight bat species are common in Illinois, but scientists at the Urban Wildlife Institute want to know which of those are in the city, and how they are adapting to urban conditions.

Over the summer, researchers placed tiny microphones around the city to catch the echolocation calls of bats. So far they have found four species near the zoo, based on the frequencies of recorded calls: big brown bats, eastern red bats, silver-haired bats and hoary bats. Many bats have already flown south to hibernate, but will return in the spring.

While it has not yet been detected in Illinois, a mysterious fungal disease known as white nose syndrome has killed about 6 million bats in the U.S. since it was discovered in 2006. Infected bats have been found nearby, in Iowa, Missouri, Kentucky and Indiana. Over the winter researchers will venture into bat caves to see if the fungus has arrived.

Send your bat sightings, photos and chiropteran clues to And tell that bat, “thanks” — bats are important pollinators for plants and they can eat up to their weight in insects every night.