Bat Release Is Here!
Bats Over Omaha will take place on Monday, May 8th at the Joslyn Castle & Gardens in Omaha. (Note, this is a new venue at the Joslyn Castle, NOT the Museum!)
We welcome visitors to join us at 6:00 PM for educational booths and family activities and to talk to NWR staff and volunteers. The weather will be beautiful so feel free to bring your dinner and enjoy the activities and the lawn and gardens until the release of the bats, which will begin around 7:45 PM.
We are thrilled to invite you back to this in-person event after three years of virtual releases! However, if you don't live in Omaha and still want to join in, we will live stream the event and the release throughout the evening on Facebook Live (@nebraskawildlife). On Facebook Live, there will be an event tour with Education Coordinator, Lauren, at 6:30PM and a bat Q&A with Director, Laura, at 7:00 PM, followed by the actual release.
Some parking is available on Joslyn Castle grounds. Overflow parking is in the neighborhood surrounding the castle. We are hoping to add a few additional features to the event between now and Monday, so stay tuned for details!
We hope to see you Monday!
What It Is
Each spring, NWR releases over 500 bats back into the wild, after taking care of them all winter. These bats are mostly big brown bats, but don't let the name fool you! An adult big brown bat weighs less than 1 ounce!
We have traditionally released our bats at the Joslyn Art Museum at 24th and Dodge in Omaha; however, starting in 2023, we are excited to announce our new in-person release site — the Joslyn Castle! There will be activities for children, educational tables, and roving bats to keep the crowd entertained. The public is invited to come as early as 6PM to stake out a spot on the lawn and enjoy a picnic dinner. We will also have food trucks on site to keep you fed, but note that this is a strictly no alcohol event. Bat release takes place at dusk and is generally wrapped up about 45 minutes after it begins. Please leave your dogs and other pets at home for this event, for the safety of any bats that may accidentally end up on the ground.
When to Expect the Release
Bat release can happen any time between the end of March and the beginning of May. We release the bats on the earliest possible date, taking into consideration current conditions, weather forecast, and insect populations. Because this is all about the bats - the release happens when it works for them. We will notify the public 48-72 hours prior to the release, and hope that you can join us!
How to Be Notified of Release Time
Follow us on Facebook or Twitter or join our E-Mail List to be notified when we set a release date!
Why Do We Do It?
We receive hundreds of bats during the winter months when they should be hibernating. Most come from inside buildings where they have set-up winter roosts. All of the bats in Nebraska eat insects. When they are found in buildings in the winter, they must come into rehab, regardless of whether they are injured or not. This is because it is too cold outside for them and there is nothing for them to eat in the winter.
Our rehabilitators treat any injuries and feed the bats until they are of an appropriate hibernating weight. They are then placed in artificial “hibernacula” where the temperature and humidity are closely monitored so they can sleep the rest of the winter away.
In the spring, once there are abundant insects and the free bats are flying, we start looking for a good stretch of weather to let our bats free again. We watch for appropriate temperatures, wind speed, and the threat of rain to decide when we are going to release our bats. Once we set a date, we notify the public that bat release is on!
Bats are extremely critical to our natural enviroment and each individual is important to bat populations in Nebraska. We thank you for caring about bats as much as we do!
Where Do The Bats Go When They're Released?
This is another reason why we are so excited to partner with the Joslyn Castle beginning in 2023. This is a fabulous venue for several reasons — First, it is a public venue that allows you to come out and see the release and to learn more about bats. Second, it is close to home for many of the bats. Most of our bats come from eastern Omaha and there is good evidence to support that the bats "go home" when released. This means that when we release at the Castle, we're giving most of the bats the shortest trip home. If you live in the neighborhood, don't worry — the bats aren't going to make a new roost in your house if you don't have bats there already. They are going to go back to their home roost as soon as they can.