The Bat Cloud is an eco-sculpture designed to encourage and support local bat populations. Architectural professor, Joyce Hwang, at the University of Buffalo, SUNY, developed the Bat Cloud project, a canopy of hanging vessels to house and support bats. This installation is at the Tifft Nature Preserve in Buffalo, NY., a part of Buffalo Museum of Science.
From afar, the vessels appear like a cloud, hovering just below the tree canopy. As you move in closer, you see Viola bicolor planted in the base of each vessel. Each vessel is designed in such a way to allow bats to enter and roost its uppermost cylindrical tower.
The vessels are also designed for the bat guano to collect below in the soil-filled pouch for fertilization of the planting. Water slowly drains from the planting pouch to maintain the vegetation.
The installation aims to draw attention to an animal critical to the ecosystem, currently disappearing in record numbers. Bats serve as a natural pesticide and are valuable evening pollinators. The installation addresses the ecology of the area and expresses sustainability through the medium of art.
Bats exploit a variety of shelters as long as they are dark and shadowy, mostly warm and damp. They are common in caves, rock and tree crevices, bridges, barns, and even attics. They are social by nature and will roost in huge colonies. Temperate zone bats will hibernate and are very dependent on roost environments. Others will migrate.
A Little Brown Bat can eat 1,200 mosquitoes an hour, and having some of them around when you are having a summer evening picnic is not a bad idea.
Little Brown Bat, also known as the northern long-eared bat, northern myotis, is one of nine bat species found in New York State and have been seen at Tifft.
Bats are not the only flying creature at Tifft. Did you know they are the only flying mammal in the world? Water is quite plentiful at Tifft, meaning there are quite a few insects for the bats to prey upon. Below is a couple of amorous dragonflies at Tifft.
They are really fast, so sorry I was not prepared to get a clean shot.
This green heron was also looking for prey.
Now that is some determination on the bird’s face.
A frog takes one for the team. The Bat Cloud is just beyond this large frog pond, through the small clearing.
A serious threat to bats, and why helping to provide for them is so important, is a disease known as white-nose syndrome. It has be decimating colonies all across the Northeast US. Here is what the USGS National Wildlife Health Center has to say, “emergent disease of hibernating bats that has spread from the northeastern to the central United States at an alarming rate. Since the winter of 2007-2008, millions of insect-eating bats in 19 states and four Canadian provinces have died from this devastating disease. The disease is named for the white fungus, Geomyces destructans, that infects skin of the muzzle, ears, and wings of hibernating bats.”
The map below shows the spread. Here is the source.