Tuesday, October 13, 2009

This Week in Nature:The 3rd week in October - Hawaiian Bat

What's Happening in Hawaii 
during the 3rd week in October:

Your best opportunity to see 'ōpe'ape'a, or the Hawaiian hoary bat (Lasiurus cinereus semotus), comes at this time of year, when they congregate at dusk on feeding grounds near shore. The only mammal native to the islands besides the monk seal, the 'ōpe'ape'a usually keeps out of sight, sleeping during the day and leading a quite solitary existence.  

Pe'a can mean "sail," so the bat may take its name from the sail-like appearance of its wings. Pe'a may also mean "to turn and go," which describes the bat's zig-zag flight while foraging. Its ability as a hunter probably accounts for a legend of an eight-eyed bat that stole Maui's wife.

Though listed as endangered, 'ōpe'ape'a seems more adaptable than most Hawaiian species, roosting freely in non-native trees and even on buildings. It is believed still to reside on all of the main islands, with the total population estimated at a few thousand. The largest concentrations - and the best places to see 'ōpe'ape'a - are on the islands of Kaua'i and Hawai'i, particularly along the Hāmākua and south Kona coasts.

Taken from "Hawaii: A Calendar of Natural Events"
published by the Bishop Museum and Kamehameha Schools in 1989

*Disclaimer: The above information was accurate as of 1989, and statistics about the number and distribution of the Hawaiian bat may have changed since then.

For more current information, visit: the species info page at HEAR.org, the Hawaii Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy bat fact sheet, and the National Park Service's fact sheet about the Hawaiian bat.

Also, see the Honolulu Zoo's bat info page, where you'll find species information, photos of bats in captivity, as well as a history of two Hawaiian bats that were cared for at the Honolulu zoo.


  1. The NPS has bat survey data more current than 1989.

  2. I've added the NPS link as an additional resource, thanks for the tip!