We recently learned that certain types of fruit bat can echolocate with their wings, and now we’re discovering that some bats also make sounds for reasons other than sonar or distress calls! Although bat songs have been recorded as much as four decades ago, more and more singing bat species are being found by scientists today, and these batsongs seem to function the same way that birdsongs do. As Robert Krulwich points out for NPR, there are very few types of mammal that sing, so it’s nice to see the club growing. Krulwich’s article continues below:
Bats produce “pings” or “clicks,” right? They make these high-pitched sounds, too high for us to hear, but when their cries ricochet off distant objects, the echoes tell them there’s a house over there, a tree in front of them, a moth flying over on the left. And so they “see” by echolocation. That’s their thing. They are famously good at it.
We all know this. But now, I want to tell you something you may not know. It turns out bats (some bats anyway) sing — sing uncannily, spookily, like songbirds, with the trilling, the chirping, as if they were nightingales.
Check out the rest of the article, including embedded audio of batsongs, here.