Help track flying foxes as they arrive on the Coast

Image: Tyron using the CAUL Urban Wildlife app to capture little red flying fox roost location

As the weather warms up and more flying-foxes arrive on the Sunshine Coast, council has called on the community to help track the animals’ movements and feeding habits by joining the citizen science project Bats in Backyard. Simply download the Clean Air and Urban Landscapes (CAUL) Urban Wildlife’ app and log any sightings of flying-foxes over the weekend from Saturday November 28 to Sunday November 29, 2020. You can record flying-fox sightings from your home or as you go for a walk around your local area. Jacqueline Nolen, Senior Natural Areas Planner encouraged the Sunshine Coast community to monitor the three species of flying-fox that call the region home over Spring and Summer—the grey headed, the black and the little red flying-fox. “The CAUL Urban Wildlife app is straightforward to use, enabling people to record their sightings of flying-foxes at a safe distance,” Ms Nolen said. “The change of season marks the beginning of birthing season for grey-headed and black flying-foxes, as the species vacates winter sites and returns to traditional maternity roosts to give birth and raise their young. “And this month (November), also saw the early arrival of the little red flying fox to the Sunshine Coast from the northern and western areas of Queensland, with sightings reported at Andrea Ahern Bushland Reserve, Battery Hill and Porter Park, Golden Beach. “The little reds are usually mating or pregnant this time of year and tend to be more vocal than black and grey-headed flying-foxes, so the roosts may be a bit noisier as they argue over territory in the trees, however they are generally only on the Sunshine Coast for eight to12 weeks to feed on local flowering plants, such as eucalypts, bloodwoods and myrtles.” Ms Nolen said flying-foxes were incredibly important to the 600 other species depending on them. “Flying-foxes play a critical role helping to keep our native forests healthy,” Ms Nolen said. “Some trees, like Australian eucalypts, only flower at night and depend on flying-foxes for survival to pollinate their flowers and spread their seeds. “Without flying-foxes, there would be no food and shelter for our koalas, no pristine habitat for our native birds, and no magnificent forests for all of us to enjoy. “So now, more than ever, we need to find ways to co-exist with this incredibly important native species. “Council understands it can be difficult living near flying-fox roosts at times, and we have a long-term aim to entice flying-foxes to a more suitable home away from residences. “Which is why we are calling on residents to download the CAUL Urban Wildlife app and to help us continue our research to better understand how a flying-fox chooses its roost sites, so we can rehabilitate more appropriate reserves with trees they like to live in and food they like to eat.” Natural Areas Conservation Officer Tyron de Kauwe said flying-foxes were wild, seasonal, highly nomadic animals that move between roost sites across the Sunshine Coast and Australia. “Understanding their movements over the long term will help council to reduce the impacts on residents who live near roosts sites,” Mr de Kauwe said. “Maternity roosts will start to get noisier at night as newborns call for their mother. It may all sound like one big noisy mess to us, but female flying-foxes can identify the call of their own young despite all the other calls in the roost. “Council’s management actions are limited during birthing season in accordance with State and Commonwealth law which ensures there are fewer orphaned or dead pups and to reduce the risk of human or pet interaction with young that have fallen out of trees. “The birthing season generally lasts until January or February, when the young become independent and capable of moving away from danger.” If you see an injured bat, avoid contact and call trained wildlife rescue professionals on 1300 ANIMAL (264 625). Head to council’s website for details on how to participate in the Bats in Backyard citizen science project. FLYING-FOX FAST FACTS Did you know?
  • Flying-foxes give birth to their young whilst hanging upside-down and catch them in their wings before licking them to stimulate their first breath.
  • Flying-foxes usually give birth to only one ‘pup’ each year.
  • Flying-fox pups drink milk from mum’s teat, which is situated in her armpit.
  • If stressed or disturbed in late stage pregnancy or early after birth, mothers may abort foetuses or abandon their young.
Top tips for living with these noisy neighbours 
  • Bring your washing in before dusk.
  • Park your cars under shelter.
  • Keep doors and windows closed at dawn and dusk to reduce noise.
  • Remove or cover fruit and flowers on trees on your property.
  • Keep dogs and cats inside at night and away from roost sites.
  • Keep pet food and water indoors to avoid contamination.
  • Move quietly near roost sites to avoid disturbing the roost – they make more noise when disturbed.
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