The bats have returned. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area is welcoming back the largest colony of Mexican free-tailed bats in California. The bats return each summer to give birth to their young and soar over the floodplain in a nightly bug-eating bonanza.
The public is invited to experience this amazing event as thousands of bats emerge each evening to hunt for insects over the rice fields of the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area, located just east of the city of Davis. Each year during bat “pupping” season, from June through September, the Yolo Basin Foundation offers “Bat Talk and Walk” tours. The tour begins with a 45-minute indoor presentation on bat natural history, after which attendees are shuttled to the outdoor viewing area to witness firsthand the spectacular aerial performance.
An estimated 250,000 Mexican free-tailed bats migrate to the area every summer to give birth under the shelter of the Yolo Causeway. The bats roost in the cement expansion joints and stream into the sky at dusk to feed, flying as high as two miles into the air.
“It is pretty incredible to see a quarter-million bats fly out each evening,” explained Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area Manager Joe Hobbs. “Sometimes drivers on the Causeway don’t even notice it, or don’t know what they’re seeing. It’s amazing to think such a cool wildlife experience is right here in Sacramento.”
This family-friendly event lasts for about three hours. Advance reservations must be made online at http://yolobasin.org/battalkandwalks. Adult admission is $14 and children 15 and under are free. Private tours are also available upon request. Those unable to walk may view the bats by car.
Bat Talk and Walk Summer 2018 Schedule: June 8, 12, 21, 23, 24 and 28 at 6:45 p.m.; July 2, 7, 10, 13, 16, 22, 27, 29 at 6:30 p.m.; Aug. 3, 5, 11, 12 at 6:15 p.m., Aug. 16, 21, 25, 29, 30, 31 at 6 p.m.; and Sept. 4, 7, 8, 10 and 11 at 5:45 p.m.