It was on one of the first of those special feeding days that I noticed two of the white-winged vampires doing something incredible. They crawled across the floor of their feeding enclosure like a pair of spiders, and then one of the bats made a bold approach to a rather large hen. The bird cocked her head to one side, eyeing the bats. Her beak could have severely injured or even killed them, so I got ready to intervene. Sharing my concern, perhaps, one of the vampires stopped a couple of inches beyond pecking distance. The other bat, however, crept even closer, and then, amazingly, it nuzzled against the hen’s feathery breast. Instead of becoming alarmed or aggressive, the bird seemed to relax. The vampire responded by pushing itself even deeper into what I would later learn was a sensitive section of skin called the brood patch: a feather-free region, densely packed with surface blood vessels, where body heat is efficiently transferred to the hen’s eggs or to her chicks. As I watched, the hen reacted to the bat by fluffing her feathers, hunkering down—and closing her eyes.Click through to read the whole thing.
My God, I thought, these bats have learned to mimic chicks!
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Chilling description of vampire bats
Here's how Bill Schutt's article about vampire bats for Natural History Magazine starts: