Why bats crash into windows | Science News

Support Science Journalism

Science News is a nonprofit.

Support us by subscribing now.

News in Brief

Why bats crash into windows

2:00pm, September 7, 2017

FLIGHT PATH DANGER Vertical, smooth surfaces could create acoustic traps for mouse-eared bats (Myotis myotis) like this one.

View the video

Walls can get the best of clumsy TV sitcom characters and bats alike.

New lab tests suggest that smooth, vertical surfaces fool some bats into thinking their flight path is clear, leading to collisions and near misses.

The furry fliers famously use sound to navigate — emitting calls and tracking the echoes to hunt for prey and locate obstacles. But some surfaces can mess with echolocation.

Stefan Greif of the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Seewiesen, Germany, and colleagues put bats to the test in a flight tunnel. Nineteen of 21 greater mouse-eared bats (Myotis myotis) crashed into a vertical metal plate at least once, the scientists report in the Sept. 8 Science. In some crashes, bats face-planted without even trying to avoid

This article is only available to Science News subscribers. Already a subscriber? Log in now.
Or subscribe today for full access.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from Science News

From the Nature Index Paid Content