Often, women claim that their husbands drive them batty, but in my case, the phrase takes on a new meaning. Little David loved bats from an early age. He took felt and fabric to construct his own “Teddy Bat”. He searched the school libraries for any books on bats, checking them out over and over again.
By the time I met David, his passion for Chiroptera meant our “dates” often consisted of sitting by a field off Bat Cave road to watch the lively flutter of bats as they left Bracken Cave. Not long after we married, David joined Bat Conservation International, Inc. (http://www.batcon.org/) and pulled me into the world of bats with him.
Western Bats Poster by David Chapman
As an artist, David designed several posters for BCI and the National Parks service on bats in different regions of the United States. He used his skills for a BCI Christmas card, some stickers, and the Discover Bats educational package. He illustrated books on how to care for and rehabilitate captive bats, too.
Townsen's Long-eared Bat by David Chapman
Eventually, David registered his name on a list to aid injured bats. It surprised no one when he ended up keeping two pipistrels that couldn’t be released. These two bats visited local schools for years as David conducted his personalized “bat talks” for the children. Caring for bats isn’t easy. The two we had needed to be hand fed. That meant we couldn’t leave town unless we could take them with us, or arranged to train another person to feed them. David taught my father how to feed and care for out bats as our back-up system. My parents would come up to San Antonio, feed bats, cats, and dogs when we left town for more than a day.
Visiting Evening Bat!
David’s zeal for bats introduced us to wonderfully dedicated scientists and volunteers. We met Merlin Tuttle, Amanda Lollar, and Barbara French. We volunteered long hours at Bracken Cave, cutting back weeds, laying trails, and doing grunt work. David Bamberger invited us along with other volunteers to Selah, Bamberger Ranch Preserve to witness the construction of The Chiroptorium (http://www.bambergerranch.org/).
Red Bat by David Chapman
Over the years, I couldn’t help but absorb some of David’s bat knowledge and bat enthusiasm. Many times we’ve hopped into our car (Paul, too) to run a rescue on a downed or injured bat. Since I’ve retired, I’ve fielded many phone calls from panicked homeowners about a bat on their porch or under a ledge. When we go to the cabin, the bat houses are checked for inhabitants, and I’ve gotten quite good at snapping pictures of a flight at dusk. Our home, too, has more than just David’s bat art on the walls. We never visit a shop without our eyes searching for a little bat to add to David’s collection. Even friends and family members purchase unusual sculptures or carvings and send them to us.
My fondest memory, though, centers on the very first bat flight I witnessed at Bracken Cave, but I’ll save that story for another day!