From amphibians to flying mammals and raptors, Pennsylvanians are being called on to help protect our native animals this wildlife breeding season.
Wildlife biologists are looking for some help counting the state's population of Appalachian bats - right in your own backyard.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission says that the summer bat count will help scientists determine the impact of White-Nose Syndrome, a disease that has been killing off millions of bats in northeastern and central states.
The Game Commission says community groups and individual homeowners can all participate in the bat count.
Pennsylvania’s two most common bat species — the little brown bat and the big brown bat — use buildings to nest and raise their young during the summer.
We had a thriving colony of big brown bats in the attic of our 1830 log house when we moved in a decade ago. A call to a wildlife control outfit brought in the experts who installed a system to allow the bats to exit at night, but blocked their return. We did that after the breeding season. They have taken up residence in our barn and garage and have all but eliminated the mosquito population around our farm.
More information on how to help with the bat survey is available on the Game Commission website under the “Pennsylvania Bats” section. (Put your cursor over “Wildlife” in the menu bar at the top of the homepage, click on “Wildlife” in the drop-down menu, scroll down and choose “Pennsylvania Bats” in the Wild Mammals section, and then click on “Appalachian Bat Count.”)
Meanwhile, over at the state Department of Environmental Protection building - where the "Caution Falcon Crossing" sign has reappeared on Market Street by the train station, the four healthy young peregrine falcons have taken their first flights - some more successfully than others.
This is the time of year when there is a flurry of activity in the skies above the state Capitol as the babies learn to fly and hunt.
A team of dedicated volunteers is on the ground peering at the skies with binoculars during daylight hours to make sure the youngsters make it back to the nest atop the Rachel Carson building.
According to the falconcam web site - where you can watch the daily wildlife drama live - two babies got into trouble last week and had to be rescued. But for now, falcon watchers report everyone is healthy and back on the ledge.