Learn to appreciate nocturnal animals

Published 3:19 pm Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Oak Mountain State Park is home to many nocturnal animals, such as bats, birds, frogs and insects. (Contributed)

Oak Mountain State Park is home to many nocturnal animals, such as bats, birds, frogs and insects. (Contributed)

By EMILY COOK / Community Columnist

Nocturnal animals, those who sleep during the day and are active at night, make up a large number of animals that call Alabama and Oak Mountain their home.

Because of them being active while we are asleep, we don’t get to see them and oftentimes, don’t know that much about them or in some cases, we are scared of them (i.e. bats).

There’s nothing to be scared of. Let’s learn a few things about them, so we can appreciate them.

Nocturnal animals include bats, birds, frogs, insects and spiders, but that’s not all of them.

Bats, the only truly flying mammal, are amazing creatures. Alabama is home to 16 species of bats, two of them listed as endangered and the rest are listed as species of concern.

A couple common bats of Alabama are the Big Brown Bat and the Tri-colored Bat. The majority of bats eat insects; therefore, we want them around because they will eat those annoying insects known as mosquitoes.

Bats can provide important things like medicine, fertilizer, radar technology and protection to farmers, just to name a few.

Typically, when we think of nocturnal birds, we think of owls first. However, there are plenty of other birds that are nocturnal.

The Common Nighthawk, Whip-poor-will and Chuck-will’s-widow are three birds that you can hear calling on a clear, otherwise soundless night.

The Whip-poor-will and Chuck-will’s-widow have distinct calls as they are saying their names.

Frogs are often heard at night calling and sometimes can be seen crossing roads after a night rain shower. A couple frogs we might hear are Bullfrogs (they can be heard from a good distance away), Spring Peepers and the Southern Leopard Frog.

Insects and spiders are two more groups of animals that can be found more commonly during the night.

We often hear the insects, such as crickets and cicadas calling at night. During warm months, we see the fireflies flashing away, and if we are out with flashlights for any reason, and shine the light into the trees, we may see the reflection of spider eyes. It’s pretty cool to see!

Don’t be scared of nocturnal animals. Learn about them and look for them.

Please remember that you keep Alabama State Parks open by visiting them.