Arizona Bat Viewing Opportunities
Bat-Watching in Phoenix
Did you know Phoenix has a great urban bat-watching opportunity? Each summer several thousand Mexican free-tailed bats and canyon bats use the Maricopa County Flood Control Tunnel, just west of the Phoenix Country Day School soccer fields near 40th Street and Camelback Road as a roost. Bats return to Arizona beginning in March and the full colony has arrived typically by June. Females give birth to a single baby in the tunnel, and the colony reaches its peak size in July and August when young begin to fly. Best times for viewing are June – August, but bats can also typically be seen as early as March and as late as October. The time of emergence is usually just before sunset. The bats roost in crevices in the eastern and western ends of the tunnel. They have returned annually to the Phoenix tunnel since the late 1990s. Each night in the summer months, these Mexican free-tailed bats fly out and eat moths and agricultural pests.
There is no reason to fear a bat emergence. Bats can fly all around you without making contact, thanks to their superior navigation abilities. Always remember, however, that no one should pick up a bat on the ground. Like any wild animal, bats will bite in self-defense. Bats pose little threat to people who do not handle them.
Directions to see bats along the Arizona Canal
From 40th Street and Camelback Road intersection, head north on 40th Street. (Parking is very limited; please respect private property and restricted areas. You may need to park south of the intersection.) The path (levee) to the tunnel is located on the north side of the Arizona Canal. Walk west on the path about 200 yards (past buildings and parking garage). You will see the flood control channel just north of the canal. Head north about 20 feet from the gravel path to the paved path. The paved path will take you to the top of the tunnel (you'll see bat-watching information signs posted here). You’ll see and you can look over as the bats fly out of the tunnel.
Bat-Watching in Tucson
Tucson has several nice urban bat watching opportunities. There are many bridges in Tucson with bat colonies. Bridges are important sources for roosts in Arizona. Species such as Mexican free-tail, Big Brown, Canyon, Pallid, Cave myotis, California myotis, and Yuma myotis are the most common species found in bridges in Phoenix and Tucson. Bats can be found at the following bridges every month of the year with peak numbers usually occurring from May-October.
Pantano Wash bridges at Golf links, 22, Speedway and Broadway – Mexican free-tailed, Canyon and Big Brown bats.
Campbell Avenue Bridge at the Rillito River – Mexican free-tailed bats and Canyon bats.
Ina Road bridge and drainage pipes at the Santa Cruz River – Mexican free-tailed, Canyon, and Cave myotis.
East Tanque Verde bridge over the Rillito – Mexican free-tailed, Canyon, and Cave myotis.
If you know of other urban bat areas, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org