Silver-haired bat by John MacGregor
Description: A medium-sized bat, silver-haired bats are up to 4 inches in length with a wingspan of about 11½ inches. Its fur is blackish or blackish-brown, broadly tipped with silvery white especially on the back. Its fur extends halfway onto the upper part of the tail membrane, and there is a noticeable spot of orangish fur behind each ear. The ears are relatively short and rounded, with a blunt tragus.
Range: The species is found in much of North America from southeastern Alaska and southern Canada, south to northern Mexico and the Coastal Plain of the southeastern United States.
Kentucky Occurrence Summary: The species has been recorded from scattered localities across the state; it occurs primarily as a transient, but there are both summer (primarily male) and winter records.
Distribution in Kentucky: See map
Habitat and Life History: This species is primarily a forest bat, using hollow trees, tree cavities, and crevices beneath peeling bark year round. Silver-haired bats typically roost singly. It is also a migratory species, with most spending summers in forested regions in the northern part of the range and hibernating in the more southern part. As the bats migrate, they utilize a variety of places for roosting including out buildings, lumber piles, fence posts, and bricks. During cold winter weather, a few individuals usually can be found in rock fissures of clifflines and in cave entrances, typically wedged far back into a crevice in the rock. (Most such Kentucky records are from the western portion of the Cumberland Plateau.) Silver-haired bats primarily use stream corridors and lake and pond margins for foraging, apparently utilizing a great variety of prey items.
Threats: As of 2016, no silver-haired bats have been documented with diagnostic signs of white-nose syndrome, though they have tested positive for the fungus that causes it.
Photos below by John MacGregor