Red Bat : : Lasiurus borealis

The spring bird migration is winding down here. Still many species coming through the Chicago area as they migrate to northern breeding grounds, but less so than a few weeks ago.

Bird are not the only critters migrating during the spring. There are several species of bats that travel through our area as well. One of the most common bat migrants is the little Red Bat Lasiurus borealis.
Red bats are so named for the reddish to orangish color of their fur, with the males being deeper in color. They feed on moths, beetles, ants, and other insects, and with the exception of migration and breeding seasons, they are solitary in nature. It's known as a tree bat, roosting in deciduous trees, and sometimes the occasional conifer tree.

Due to their use of echolocation, bats, unlike migrating birds, are less prone to colliding with larger buildings in urban areas such as Chicago. It does happen, though.  My daughter's baby sitter showed me a photo she had taken of a little red bat she had found sitting on the sidewalk near a friend's apartment in downtown Chicago. She didn't know what it was, and said that the poor little guy was just sitting there, a bit disoriented. Once we ascertained that it was a Red Bat, I spoke with a couple biologists at the Field Museum. One said that when bats collide with buildings, it usually just stuns them for a bit. But that if they end up on the ground, they can get cold and go in to a sort of torpor. When this particular individual would find one, he would pick it up and warm it up in his gloved hands. Once warmed the bat would come out of its torpor and fly off. I am by NO means recommending that anyone should pick up a bat, especially if they are not a trained wildlife professional, but it made me feel good to know that these little guys had someone out there helping them.

To learn more about bats in general check the wonderful Bat Conservation International site.

I will be at the Field Museum tomorrow (Thursday), and so if you follow me on instagram or twitter I'll be posting a few photos.


  1. I don't really like bats, but I like yours. It's quite sweet.

    I definitely wouldn't recommend anyone except a trained professional handle a bat because of the rabies risk.

  2. That's a shame because they are amazing, and extremely beneficial animals. Their numbers in recent years are dwindling due habitat loss, a fungus called white-nose syndrome, and being maligned due to various myths about their nature. Rabies is indeed a real concern, and while bats are one of several animals that are known carriers, a very tiny percentage of bat populations actually have the disease. The likelihood of getting rabies from a domestic dog is actually much greater.

  3. I have seen two bats on the sidewalk in as many days this past week. I've never seen that before!

  4. That does sound unusual. But I guess there are many migrating through the area. Aside from building collisions, there is the possibility that the ones you saw were ill in some way : /

  5. Bats are so cool! I just have to say how very much I love your blog posts. All the wonderful paintings and interesting information about birds, animals and the world at large that you post are wonderful and every time I discover a new post it's like opening a surprise present.

  6. @Anne-Marie, that is just about the best compliment ever! Thank you for making my day.

  7. one of my favourite things about summer evening is watching the air show the local bats put on. Wonderful animals , they don't even charge admission.


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