Flying foxes arrive at Commonwealth Park for their annual ‘summer maternity camp’

Lottie Twyford 9 November 2021 15
Flying foxes in trees

Every summer, flying foxes make their way to Commonwealth Park for a ‘summer maternity camp’. Photo: Supplied.

Regular as clockwork, every spring sees grey-headed flying foxes make their way to Commonwealth Park in Canberra to prepare for the summer birthing season, and ACT Wildlife is now calling on the public to keep an eye out for vulnerable species.

ACT Wildlife volunteer Katrina Roper says the flying foxes have been arriving since 2003, and numbers have been steadily increasing from around 3000 a few years ago to nearly 10,000 last summer.

She says the flying foxes like the area next to Lake Burley Griffin because they prefer to be close to a permanent freshwater source that lets them fly over and have a drink.

As numbers in the park colony grow, Canberrans are being asked to keep an eye out for the bats as they might start setting up camp in other locations.

Sightings of bats forming camps beyond Commonwealth Park can be reported via the Canberra Nature Map, either through the website or via the NatureMapr smartphone app.

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Flying fox numbers are declining due to habitat clearing and a number of other factors. They can also be put in danger by incorrect tree netting, barbed wire, electrocution from powerlines and dog attacks.

Katrina says generally the bats arrive in late spring before the pregnant female bats give birth to a single pup after a six-month pregnancy.

“The mothers carry the baby bats for the first month after birth when they forage for food at night,” she says.

“After that, as the babies become too heavy for the mother bats to carry, they leave the pups in a bat creche in the maternity camp while they go and find flowers and pollen.”

Each mother can identify her own baby by its unique call, and they will begin feeding independently when they are able to fly at five to six months of age.

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Grey-headed flying foxes are listed as a vulnerable species in Australia, and are on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species.

It’s currently estimated there are only half a million of these animals left in Australia – the only country they’re found in – which is down from several million just a couple of decades ago.

The Black Summer bushfires of 2019-2020 saw mass destruction of native forests, which are the flying foxes’ habitat. Other heat stress events have also led to mass deaths.

Katrina explains flying foxes are very important creatures that play a vital ecological role by dispersing pollen and seeds from a wide variety of native Australian plants, so it’s critical that their numbers remain strong.


Baturday featured Joelene the flying fox last week. Here's her successful release at the Commonwealth Park colony — carer Denise said all went well. Joelene had healed from wounds after being stuck on a barbed wire fence. Don't touch bats yourself — our carers are trained and vaccinated.

Posted by ACT Wildlife on Sunday, October 3, 2021

Any bat hanging alone by itself during the day should be reported to ACT Wildlife as they should always return to the main camp.

ACT Wildlife volunteers can be reached 24-hours-a-day on 0432 300 033 for the rescue of any native animals, including flying foxes.

Members of the public are asked not to attempt a bat rescue themselves as there is a very small chance the bat could be infected with lyssavirus. Instead, a vaccinated volunteer will be able to assist.

If bats have been orphaned, they are reared by licensed and vaccinated carers during a six-month period before being released, while injured adult bats are rehabilitated and released back to the colony when possible.

ACT Wildlife carers already have a few flying foxes in their care.

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15 Responses to Flying foxes arrive at Commonwealth Park for their annual ‘summer maternity camp’
Amanda Adams Amanda Adams 7:29 pm 12 Nov 21

Not forgetting ,they get to watch live music from above,don’t have to pay a cent and most likely have the best view from above ,👋👏👏

Rebecca Everest Rebecca Everest 10:44 pm 11 Nov 21

Jody Duff Sharon Manginas remember seeing these when we were at Floriade.

    Sharon Manginas Sharon Manginas 12:46 am 13 Nov 21

    Rebecca Everest they look so cool. I can’t believe how many we saw!

Mic Mac Mic Mac 7:02 pm 10 Nov 21

So, Richard Willcoxson, you’re upset about an endangered native animal feeding on your exotic (that is, non-native) fruit trees

Cary Elliot Johnson Cary Elliot Johnson 7:01 pm 10 Nov 21

Hopefully they have recovered after being affected by high death rates like during last years massive hail storm.

Kayne Laundess Kayne Laundess 4:38 pm 10 Nov 21

Jayde Laundess I thought these were bats the whole time I seen one out the farm

    Jayde Laundess Jayde Laundess 4:39 pm 10 Nov 21

    Kayne Laundess these used to hang on the trees across from mcnauhhton st

    Kayne Laundess Kayne Laundess 4:46 pm 10 Nov 21

    Jayde Laundess I also thought they were bats

    Jayde Laundess Jayde Laundess 4:57 pm 10 Nov 21

    Kayne Laundess I remember the first time I seen them I was like 10 I ran so fast home to tell mum and Simon I thought they were only in America hahahabahhaahaha

Richard Willcoxson Richard Willcoxson 4:15 pm 10 Nov 21

Bloody pests and destroy my fig and apple tree every year.

    Karen De Britt Karen De Britt 5:26 pm 12 Nov 21

    Richard Willcoxson try covering it in Wildlife friendly netting. Flying foxes are a keystone species and so important to the health of our forests.

    Alison Thomas Alison Thomas 11:46 am 13 Nov 21

    Richard Willcoxson they were actually here first…

    Richard Willcoxson Richard Willcoxson 3:57 pm 13 Nov 21

    Alison Thomas actually no. The colonies only moved into Canberra around 2003. Prior to that we didn’t have them.

John Headon John Headon 3:16 pm 10 Nov 21

Josh Kite your fav

jeffery2018 jeffery2018 9:25 am 10 Nov 21

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