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Photo by: Emily Ferrall (GA DNR)
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Lasiurus cinereus (Beauvois, 1796)

Hoary Bat

Federal Protection: No US federal protection

State Protection: No Georgia state protection

Global Rank: G3G4

State Rank: S4

SWAP High Priority Species (SGCN): No

Element Occurrences (EOs) in Georgia: 0

Habitat Summary for element in Georgia: Georgia habitat information not available


Description

The Hoary bat has a silvery white, frosted appearance to its fur, and a yellow throat patch. The individual hairs of a hoary bat are typically dark at the base, yellowish in the middle, and black at the end with white tips. Thick, soft, long hair covers the back, extending to the elbow, the border of the undersides of the wings, the underside of the arms, and the lower surface of the tail membrane. The Hoary bat is the largest tree bat of the southeastern United States, ranging from 13-15 cm (5.1-5.9 in) in total length and weighing 20 to 35 g. Average wingspan is 43 cm (430 mm).

Similar Species

The Hawaiian hoary bat (Lasiurus cinereus semotus) is a subspecies of the mainland hoary bat. Although visually similar to the hoary bat, the Hawaiian hoary bat is endemic to the Hawaiian Islands and is listed as endangered species.

Habitat

Hoary bats spend their summers in the foliage of mature deciduous and coniferous trees, typically near the edge of a clearing. They have also been found to utilize trees found in heavy forested areas, open wooded glades, and shaded trees along urban streets in cities and parks.

Diet

Like all of Georgia’s bats, hoary bats are insectivorous. Moths make up the bulk of their diet. These bats are also known to feed on flies, beetles, small wasps and their relatives, grasshoppers, termites, and dragonflies.

Life History

Hoary bats are typically a solitary species, roosting alone 3 to 5 m above the ground; however, during the time of breeding and migration, they can be seen flying in large groups. Although it is unknown if hoary bats mate before, during, or after their southward migration, is it true that mating is followed by delayed fertilization and offspring are born from the middle of May into early July. Females give birth to one to four pups with an average of 2 offspring per litter. Average lifespan in the wild is 2.1 years.

Survey Recommendations

Classic survey methods for hoary bats include mist-netting over water sources and the use of ultrasonic bat detectors. Mist netting surveys in Georgia should follow guidelines laid out on our Bat Survey Guidance webpage (http://www.georgiawildlife.com/BatSurveyGuidance).

Range

Hoary bats are the most widespread bat species in the United States, with a transcontinental range stretching from south-eastern Canada to Hawaii.

The hoary bat is a migratory bat species, which means instead of spending winter months hibernating in large colonies, this solitary bat migrates to warm winter habitats.

Threats

It is estimated that over 600,000 bats are killed by wind turbines annually, with hoary bats seeing the largest decline. Some possible solutions are ultrasonic acoustic deterrents, which persuade bats to avoid the area, and temporarily suspending operations at wind energy plants during predictable periods of high bat fatalities.

Georgia Conservation Status

This species is not considered to be threatened at this time.

Conservation Management Recommendations

Although hoary bats are widespread and secure over much of their range, research indicates the need for wind turbine intervention. Management recommendations include raising “cut-in” speeds of wind turbines during peak migration times to limit the number of migratory tree bats killed. “Cut-in” speeds refer to the wind speed at which turbines first start rotating and generating electrical power. Further research identifying migratory patterns and pathways of hoary bats is needed.

References

Anderson, Susan Karen. “Lasiurus Cinereus (Hoary Bat).” Animal Diversity Web, animaldiversity.org/accounts/Lasiurus_cinereus/.

Barbour, R. and W. Davis. 1969. The Bats of America. The University of Kentucky Press. Pgs. 143-148.

Ecology and Distribution of the Endangered Hawaiian Hoary Bat, www.usgs.gov/centers/pierc/science/ecology-and-distribution-endangered-hawaiian-hoary-bat?qt-science_center_objects=0#qt-science_center_objects.

Perkins, Kelly, A. Hoary Bat Guide - New York Natural Heritage Program, guides.nynhp.org/hoary-bat/#conservation-management. 25 March 2014.

Shrump, A. and K. Shrump. 23 Nov. 1982. Mammalian Species. The American Society of Mammalogists. No. 185.

Authors of Account

Sarah Krueger

Date Compiled or Updated

S. Krueger, March 2020

Photo by: J. Scott Altenbach