Drought Bats, Hurricane Birds and Your Weekend Outlook

October 6, 2011; 4:59 PM ET
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Weekend Outlook

Much-needed rain will fall from Kansas to Texas this weekend as a cold front becomes nearly stalled over the region. Unseasonably warm, dry weather will encompass the East. The exception will be across Florida, as strong easterly winds and rough surf batter the state's east coast. Showers will dampen the state as well.

Mostly tranquil, warmer weather will settle into the West.

Texas Bat Colonies Plagued by Drought

In this photo taken Sept. 1, 2011, some of the 20 million bats emerge from Bracken Cave in Bracken, Texas. A depleting insect population has forced millions of bats around drought-stricken Texas to emerge before nightfall for food runs, making them more susceptible to natural predators. Some experts have already noticed fewer bats emerging from caves and have seen evidence that more infant bats are showing up dead, hinting at a looming population decline. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

More than 20 million Mexican free-tailed bats migrate from Mexico to Bracken, Texas every year to give birth, according to the Associated Press. The female bats swoop in around March and stay for the summer before heading home. Primarily, these bats typically feed on "agricultural pests" (over 200 pounds worth per daily meal for the entire colony).

Texas suffered from severe drought conditions throughout the summer. "It is the worst drought in over 50 years in general," said AccuWeather.com Expert Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski. "This was probably the hottest and driest summer on record for the state."

Because of these conditions, the bats' food supply is declining in Texas. Usually, the bats head out to feed around 8:30 p.m. The bats are now heading out to forage for food roughly two hours earlier, before sunset, according to the Associated Press.

The emergence of the bats generally brings in tourists. The massive size of the colony is visible even on weather radar. While tourism is up for the nocturnal creatures' premature outings, the bats themselves are suffering.

Thankfully, experts believe there will be no long-term damage to the colony.

Tropical Bird Stranded by Hurricane Irene

Photo Credit: Glen Tepke - http://www.pbase.com/gtepke/

According to the Associated Press, a White-tailed Tropicbird was discovered in Claremont, N.H. on Aug. 30. The bird, generally making its home over warmer waters, had never been seen in the state before, said Saint Anslem College Biology Professor Jay Pitocchelli.

Pitocchelli also said that finding the bird so far inland anywhere was very rare.

The bird was taken to a wild bird hospital in Lyme, but it died the next day. The bird's body is scheduled to be sent to the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

Parts of this story were contributed by AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Andrew Mussoline.


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