What time will the bats fly? How long will it last?

Hi All,

In the last week has anyone asked you what time is bat flight? Or what about: How long will bat flight last?

On the laptop and iPads in the Keynote template from June, there are a couple line graphs that show the emergence on particular nights. I think we have it for Sept. 14. So if someone asks you what time will the bats fly or how long with the flight last, you can show them that line graph and they can see what happened on a Sept. evening in the past. Based on the line, they might anticipate a slow start and then a peak and then decide to stay until 10 p.m. because I think there was a dip in the numbers of bats emerging and then a lot of action around 9:30.

I think you could even have this (or a print out of it) at the front desk for the rest of the month. I’ll be curious to hear what you get as reactions. Do people ignore the graph and look to you for further explanation, or do they talk it out, testing out their ideas of the high and low points? Does the graph mirror what you have seen in the past week or so?

Thinking of you from my desk in New England.



5 thoughts on “What time will the bats fly? How long will it last?

  1. Well, the park has been closed due to flooding the past four days, but we are open again today. According to the seasonals on the hill, the bats are flying out around 6:30 I think, and it’s been really good flights! So, in the past week, we haven’t had much chance to have visitor interactions, but I can assure you that people ask all the time when the bats will fly out. In my experience, they don’t ask about the duration of the flight until the bats are actually flying out and they are witnessing it–does anyone else have different experiences with that? It’s a very common question after Bat Flight program “how long will it take for them all to fly out?” But I don’t hear that one very often during the day.


  2. I have been asked on occasion – only at the desk – how long the flight lasts. When I’m at the desk and people ask about the flight time, I make sure to tell them how long it lasts, as well as how long they’ll actually be able to see it. It seems like most people are surprised by how LONG it lasts, thinking it is actually much quicker.

    I think it would be neat to have the graph at the desk and show people who are interested.


  3. Hi, I’ve been thinking about my experience of the first 45-60 minutes of bat flight and how I’d draw the emergence if I had to translate it to two dimensions. On Sat. Sept. 13 is like 3 poofs of bats before a steadier stream emerged. The first poof was maybe 100 bats in a circle. Pause. Bats emerge. Circle. Fly off. Pause. The following nights there I didn’t detect that poof pause pattern. (How sophisticated does that sound?). Having some visitor made graphs to show in comparison to Nick’s graph from a September flight would be one way to give visitors the chance to answer the questions about how long it lasts and what it might look like. Good visual literacy practice for visitors–reading and decoding graphs.

    Kristi, let us know if you take the iPad to the front desk for a shift and if you find yourself using it and how. I think interpreters at Joshua Tree may be using iPads at the desks in their visitor centers, but I don’t know more than that about what they are displaying and what kinds of interactions they are facilitating.

    Ellen, so interesting to hear how the focus of visitors’ questions changes over the course of their time spent at the park. I noticed many if not all of you asking visitors you encounter at your programs or on roves who has been to bat flight or who has yet to go into the cave. It helps you gauge people’s background knowledge and maybe it does more than that–helps you anticipate what their next set of questions might be. Now I’m wondering–Is that true? Is there something else you’re getting from those icebreaker type questions?


  4. I agree with Kristi’s comment that people are surprised by how long it takes for all the bats to exit the cave. I think having the iPad at the desk could be useful, especially this time of year when you can have longer, more meaningful contacts at desk.

    As for asking visitors if they have seen the bat flight or not, you’re right that it helps us gauge their background knowledge. That way our contact doesn’t have to cover old ground, so to speak, by repeating information they may have already heard. And it does help us anticipate their next questions–will they be very basic, or starting to get more in depth? But even before that, one purpose I have for asking that question is to show interest in them so that they feel welcome to ask ME something–anything–it doesn’t have to be about bats (although it frequently is). Maybe that’s an obvious answer… but yeah, showing them I’m willing to start a dialogue hopefully makes them feel more welcome to engage with me.


  5. It is a long time. It’s a lot of bats.
    That would be another way to look at that monster graph. I know 18,000 bats per minute is possible, but it wasn’t typical, I don’t think.
    Find out a typical number per minute and figure out how long it takes at that rate for 1,000, 10,000; 100,000, 400,000 to leave the roost.

    I still have some nagging questions about these numbers.
    Early in the summer, let’s say there are 200,000 adult bats coming and going, but 400,000 bats in the roost once the babies are born. Then moms go away and so it’s still 200,000 coming and going because now it’s just the babies. And we suspect or we know that on any given day 99% of the bats leave the roost?

    Yes to longer conversations at the desk on off-season. Clearly that’s a no go when you have visitors waiting like it’s about to be the day after Thanksgiving shopping time, but a lot of people seem to like to hang out and have an extended conversation.

    What about, “Have you done the scenic drive?” or “Have you seen my favorite walk on the Old Guano Mine trail?” I’ve heard you all think the desert is under-appreciated, but it could be hyped more in subtle and not so subtle ways.


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