Discovering the Cibolo at Night
By Jasmine Torrez
As the sun sets and darkness falls over the Cibolo, the sounds of nature change, and it becomes a land where the birds that sing throughout the day are silent, and the owls begin to call. The frogs sound off loudly in concert while snakes emerge to hunt for food hidden by the darkness of night. You will be introduced to this lesser unknown world at the Cibolo if you attend one of our Night Hikes.
From April through November, monthly night hikes and nature walks will connect you to a whole new living world that surrounds us at the Cibolo. Even if you’ve walked our grounds many times before, there is nothing like seeing the vast number of nocturnal species that we work so hard to conserve in their natural habitats.
As you walk through the darkness, flashlights in hand, you can only see a few feet ahead of you. While stopped in the middle of the woodland trail, your imaginations will run wild in complete darkness. We will listen and connect ourselves to the sounds of nature.
On the night hike, we integrate technology to enhance our experience through iPads we bring along with an echo meter. Echo meters are small devices used to detect bat calls. We hear the bats fly above, searching for food, and these bats use echolocation to locate food. Bats hear in too high of a frequency for us to hear, so using echo meters allows us to listen to the bats’ echolocation as the echo meter converts the high-pitched frequencies to sounds we can hear.
As we listen for various bat species, we begin to uncover the importance of having them in the ecosystem. Did you know bats help us in many ways, especially with our food? If it weren’t for bats, many of our crops would not survive. Corn is an excellent example. Corn borer moths are one of the most nutrient-dense foods for bats, which they love. They eat many of the moths that would otherwise destroy our crops, so you can thank a bat the next time you have corn on the cob!
As we continue our night hike, we approach the edge of the creek, where the chorus of frogs has grown louder. These frogs are an indicator species. They help us to understand how the ecosystem is fairing. If the ecosystem were polluted and barren, frogs would not live in the area. Frogs living here indicate that the ecosystem is in an excellent state, even though of course, we are always working to improve it.
One of the most important things you can help us do to keep the Cibolo wildlife thriving is picking up trash and be sure not to leave any trash behind. Together, we can all do our part to help conserve the area and appreciate the beauty of all living things in nature and at the Cibolo Nature Center.
This is why we, the entire Cibolo staff, work so hard to create educational and fun events that will help foster that deep appreciation and love of nature. The Cibolo at night can inspire everyone who comes to do just that. We hope to share this experience with you, your family, and your friends real soon.
Family Nature Walks and Adult Night Hikes are monthly events you can enjoy from April through November. Family Nature Walks are shorter, slower-paced distances better suited for children. Adult Night Hikes are longer, more moderately-paced distances.
Our next Night Hike is on Friday, July 16th, from 7:00-*:00 pm. These events are filling up fast, so make sure you keep checking our calendar on www.cibolo.org for future dates. We hope to see you there!