Volume 36, Issue 1, 2017

From bird guy to bat dad

By Mike Daulton

For the past 17 years, I have been a bird guy. So when I made the decision to move into the world of bat conservation, I honestly didn’t know how people would react. But, as I announced to those closest to me that I had become the new Executive Director of Bat Conservation International (BCI), a remarkable thing happened.

It was like the word “bats” was a secret code word, and it unlocked an overwhelmingly heartwarming response.

A member of my extended family told me the story of how she had just finished building a bat house with her husband as a gift for her father-in-law. Colleagues and friends shared their favorite bat photos and videos (I recommend “bat eating banana” if you haven’t seen it on YouTube).

My two daughters, seven and four years old, blossomed with fascination and awe, and blessed me with dozens of crayon drawings of bats and a now treasured beaded bracelet. Six beads had letters to spell out a message: “Bat dad.”

In my heart, I understood how they all felt. I had experienced my own sense of fascination and awe when I had the opportunity a few years ago to visit Bracken Cave. Words don’t easily capture the experience. When you are standing a few yards from more than 15 million bats spiraling out of a cave, the term “whirlwind of bats” is about as adequate as the words “scenic overlook” when you’re standing at the rim of the Grand Canyon. To me, all truly special places in nature have their own kind of magic. It’s a magic that gives you a renewed sense of the privilege of being alive. Bracken Cave has that special magic.

I am deeply proud to help carry on the work of Bat Conservation International, which protects Bracken Cave and other special places just like it around the globe. I want my daughters to live in a world where those places still exist. And this newly-minted Bat Dad needs your help to do it. Support BCI and we will get to work protecting our beautiful world together.

Mike Daulton

BCI Executive Director

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