The long tailed bat
So, a mammal won the Bird of the Year competition Bird of the Year 2021 | Bird of the Year . Interesting choice. The pekapeka long tailed bat won over other New Zealand birds including kōkako and hoiho yellow-eyed penguin.
The pekapeka long tailed bat can be found all over New Zealand but the threat for survival is at the highest level: nationally critical. Bats aren’t the first thing a lot of people think of when they think of threatened species in New Zealand, so although it might be an ‘interesting’ choice to be named ‘Bird of the Year’, it is good to get the spotlight on these cute little bats.
Here are some facts on this bat from the Department of Conservation website:
The long-tailed bat (Chalinolobus tuberculatus) belongs to a more widespread family and is closely related to five other species of wattled or lobe-lipped bats in Australia and elsewhere.
The North Island and South Island long-tailed bat was confirmed in 2018 as one species. It has the highest threat ranking of ‘nationally critical’.
Long-tailed bats are widely distributed throughout the mainland, Stewart Island, Little Barrier and Great Barrier islands and Kapiti Island. They are more commonly seen than short-tailed bats as they fly at dusk along forest edges.
- Long-tailed bats are smaller than the short-tailed bat, chestnut brown in colour, have small ears and weigh 8-11 grams.
- They are believed to produce only one offspring each year.
- The bat’s echo-location calls include a relatively low frequency component which can be heard by some people.
- It can fly at 60 kilometres per hour and has a very large home range (100 km2).
- An aerial insectivore, it feeds on small moths, midges, mosquitoes and beetles.
Causes of decline are combinations of:
- Clearance and logging of lowland forests
- Cutting of old-age trees for fire wood
- Predation by introduced animals such as cats, possums, rats, and stoats
- Exclusion of bats from roosts by introduced mammals, birds, wasps, and human interference.