Audible Bats Project

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Most bats echolocate at a frequency unheard by the human ear, however, some desert species emit echolocation calls within the range of human hearing. 

Spotted bats (Euderma maculatum) are an elusive and widely-distributed species throughout the semi-arid deserts of North America. Sometimes called the “Oreo cookie bat,” they sport large, pink ears and spotted fur. Spotted bats roost high among sheer cliffs, but their clicking calls can be heard while they hunt for moths in the canyons of the Pacific Northwest.

Historically, spotted bats were thought to be extremely rare i or even locally extinct in the PNW. In 2005, however, listening surveys in Central Oregon revealed that spotted bats may be more abundant  than previously recognized.

Pallid bats (Antrozous pallidus) are another of Oregon's high desert bat species. They have a wide range, spanning from Canada to Mexico. While pallid bats typically produce inaudible, high-frequency echolocation calls, this behavior changes while rearing pups. When in the vicinity of summertime maternity roosts, pallid bats will lower the frequencies of their calls to within the range of human hearing.

Serendipitously, both the spotted bat and pallid bat are found in similar arid cliffs and canyons habitats such that both species can be effectively surveyed simultaneously.

We will be sending volunteers out to search for both the spotted and pallid bat this summer. Surveys take place just after dark in a variety of locations, from city parks to the remote desert. This is a family-friendly research project and an excellent opportunity to get to know Oregon's night sky!

Data collection begins June 1st!

To sign up for group or individual surveys for the 2024 season, please click here. This season, we are also adding an opportunistic survey option for those who want to contribute without the commitment. 

Training for volunteers will be available online throughout the survey season. We will have one non-camping training/survey event to kick things off.

The rest of the group survey events take place in remote locations and camping with us is highly recommended. We will reserve campsites and cover all camping fees for volunteers. Transportation will be provided from Bend for those who need it. Group events are listed below. 

Agency and NGO partner surveys

Last year, we added more formalized surveys for our field crews and partner organizations. Aural surveys were conducted across Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. These surveys follow the NABat survey design and can be convenient for anyone already conducting passive acoustic monitoring. A virtual training for our partner protocol will be avilable soon. 

We have compiled a playlist of audible spotted and pallid bat calls for surveyors to familiarize themselves with the echolocation and social calls. That playlist can be found on our YouTube channel.

If you have any questions or would like to receive project updates, please contact Sara Rose to be added to our list of project partners. 

The Intro - Smith Rock State Park

June 7, 8:00pm

Meet us at the North Point Parking Loop. We will cover basic bat ecology, spotted and pallid bat life histories, how to fill out the data sheet, and how to identify bats by ear. After that, will head out to a survey location together to listen. 

The Classic - Billy Chinook

June 15th, Perry South Campground

We are returning to one of our favorite Audible Bats survey areas. Just under two hours from Bend, this is one of the best and most convenient places to get to know spotted bats! 

The Adventure - Adel/Lakeview

July 6, Mud Creek Campground

This will be our inaugural trip to the dramatic landscape of southeast Oregon. This remote location is situated in Oregon's Dark Sky Sanctuary and should provide stunning survey sites. 

The Comeback - Paulina

August 17, Double Cabin Campground

Last year, intense wildfire smoke put a damper on our plans to explore this area. This year, we are determined to find some desert bats out in the Ochoco Mountains!

End on a High Note - John Day

September 7, Barnhouse Campground

The John Day Fossil Beds are home to an incredibly diverse group of bats. Come survey with us along the John Day River and maybe get to know the unique local geology. 


This year, we will have both digital and paper datasheets available. 

To access the digital datasheet, download Survey123 on your phone or tablet. Open the app and tap, 'Continue without signing in.' Tap the tiny symbol in the search bar and then scan the QR code below. You can also open the datasheet by opening this link on you phone/tablet. 

The paper datasheet can be downloaded by clicking the link below. 

If you are unable to attend our in-person training at Smith Rock, you can still learn everything you need to know by watching one of our training videos. There will be a few different options depending on what kind of surveys you would like to do. We also have a few extra bat call videos for you to familiarize yourself with the sounds of spotted and pallid bats. All videos can be accessed on our YouTube channel

Our volunteer site selection map can be used to find good locations for audible bats surveys. We have provided as much information as we can about survey site access and conditions, but please be aware that our team has not been able to visit most of these sites in person to verify things like road conditions. 

Access the map here

Contact Us

Please note that there is no previous biology or backcountry knowledge required to become a community scientist. There are options for all physical abilities and outdoor experience. Find us on Facebook and Instagram.

For any questions, please contact Sara Rose, volunteer coordinator. We appreciate your interest in the Audible Bats Project.