The Parker-Fitzgerald Cuchara Mountain Park anxiously awaits the arrival of new residents that will hopefully attract more visitors and educational opportunities.
The excitement even fueled the development of housing specially designed for the new inhabitants. The structure, featured in the middle of the park, stands 14 feet above the ground, the perfect height for the new community members to land after traveling hundreds of miles.
This summer, Mexican free-tailed bats will fly from sunset through the black of night to occupy their new bat house.
David Vogel, known to Cuchara residents as “The Bat Man,” has always been interested in animals and nature. He especially enjoys researching, learning, and observing the 16-19 species of bats that reside in the area. Bats play a significant role in maintaining a healthy eco-system in Cuchara and around the world. They can consume between half and 110 percent of their body weight in insects per day. Many of these insects are those that damage trees. They also help control the large populations of moths and mosquitos that Coloradoans are so familiar with.
Of the several species of bats that reside in Colorado, Vogel is determined to attract a colony of Mexican free-tailed bats to the area. According to Vogel, they have been spotted at the Cuchara Mountain Park. The bats spend the winter months in central and southern Mexico, and from June through September they roost in the San Luis Valley and as far north as Grand Junction.
It is believed that the potential exists to attract a large colony to roost in the Cuchara Mountain Park bat house during the summer months.
When Vogel approached the Cuchara community with details of his proposed project, the community instantly took interest. With generous donations from area residents and support from local organizations, including San Isabel Electric, funds for the house were quickly raised.
In October of 2020, the construction of the bat house was completed. The hope is that bats will begin to occupy their new roost in the spring of 2021. The community has big plans for the house.
“Now that the big bat house is in place and ready to welcome bats next year, we look forward to providing educational opportunities for area residents, students and visitors. We also plan to participate in ongoing bat research projects, centered around our big bat house bat colony. Bats have only been seriously studied since about the 1970s, and there is still much to learn about them,” said Vogel.
Immediate plans include working with area youth to research bats and prepare interpretive signage about the new residents. This opportunity will be made available by in-kind donations from the Cuchara Foundation to the new Cuchara Mountain Park Resilient Communities Grant funded by Greater Outdoors Colorado (GOCO).
You can follow the big bat house project by visiting the Cuchara Foundation’s Facebook page.