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Sonoran Desert
SEPTEMBER 2006
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Photo captions by Peter Gwin
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Sonoran Desert Gallery Photo

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Bat Cave Exodus
Photograph by George Steinmetz

In a rush of wings whipping the night air, as many as 500 bats a minute exit a shallow cave in the Pinacate and Grand Altar Desert Biosphere Reserve, a protected area within the Sonoran Desert just south of the Arizona border. Some 200,000 female members of this species—the lesser long-nosed bat—gather at this cave each April before giving birth to their pups in May. At night the mothers-to-be venture out to feed on the nectar and pollen of cactus flowers, including organ pipe, cardon, and saguaro. Come winter, these bats will migrate to central Mexico, where they will pollinate the flowers of agave plants, which are used to produce tequila and mescal.
Photo Fast Facts
Camera: Canon EOS-1DS
Format: Digital
Lens: 16mm
Speed and F-Stop: 1/30 @ f/3.5
Weather Conditions: Clear
Time of Day: Evening
Lighting Techniques: Unrecorded
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