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Bats usually communicate with each other through high frequency chirps, screeches, and songs. And while we can hear sounds limited to frequencies between 20 and 20,000 waves per second, bats can emit and hear sounds at frequencies that are over 100,000 waves per second. The human ear can't naturally pick up the high-pitched sounds produced by bats, but we can hear those sounds that are within our wave frequency range. The ultrasonic sounds produced by bats can be recorded with special professional gear, and if you want to hear them, there are tons of good recordings available on the web.
Although it is true that both the advancements in the field of biomechanics, as well as the hard work of dedicated scientists and biologists have allowed us to be the generation with the most insight in the world of bats, there is still much more to discover and explain in what concerns bat communication. The sounds through which bats communicate can vary tremendously not only from species to species, but also from one family of bats to another, and from individual to individual. Male mating calls will be different than the sounds made to alert others of danger, or than the sounds male bats will make to mark their territory. In maternity colonies of up to hundreds and hundreds of different female and baby bats, mother bats will effortlessly find their young by their specific sounds every single time. A female bat communicating with another female will sound different than that same female communicating with a male bat. The tonality of the sounds emitted by female bats versus the tonality used by male bats is even distinguishable by the human ear.
Learn more: Do bats avoid light?
Bats communicate with their environment mostly by using their biological sonar. Like some birds, killer whales, dolphins and porpoises, bats use echolocation to navigate, detect food, and stay away from predators. Most North American bat species are insectivores, though we have three species of frugivorous bats in the US that migrate from Mexico. The majority of bats are nocturnal. This means that our bats have to navigate through darkness in order to hunt for insects. By emitting high-pitched sounds through their mouth or nose, bats use echolocation by intercepting with their ears the echoes that come back once the sound waves they produce bounce off the objects found in their surroundings. By using echolocation, a bat will gather a huge amount of information about the space surrounding it. Echolocation will let a bat know about absolutely every obstacle in its path, the number of obstacles and how far they are from each other, as well as the size and shape of the obstacles. Its tiny brain will immediately and without error calculate the exact point in time and space when it will have to avoid an obstacle, and how it will avoid it. It calculates speed, distance, and degrees while in flight better than any manmade machinery, being the most intensely studied animal in military aeronautical development. And all of this while flawlessly achieving its primary mission – echolocating and catching its moving food. It eats in continuous flight, chewing and swallowing while continuing to successfully use echolocation.
Bat communication is highly sophisticated and diverse, and we still have a whole lot more to learn both about it and from it.
For more information, you may want to click on one of these guides that I wrote:
How much does bat removal cost? - get the lowdown on prices.
How to get rid of bats - my main bat removal info guide.
Example bat removal photographs - get do-it-yourself ideas.
Bat job blog - learn from great examples of bat jobs I've done.