Bats are beautiful: Artwork inspired by 30+ years of working with bats

Chester O. Martin has been working with bats for more than 30 years, and still finds them captivating. “I started working with bats while at Texas A&M in the 70s, doing my thesis work with pallid bats.” said Martin. His bat and wildlife-inspired artwork is on display this week at the 2011 Eastern Bat Working Group Meeting in Louisville, Ky.

Chester, who recently retired from his position as wildlife biologist with the Army Research and Development Center in Vicksburg, Mississippi, was instrumental in getting the Army interested in bat research, and has been conducting bat studies on military lands over the last 15 years. He also founded the Mississippi Bat Working Group and the National Military Fish and Wildlife Association Bat Working Group.

These days, he stays involved with bats as Research Emeritus with the Army Research and Development Center, but will soon be “retiring” from that position. He plans to focus more on his artwork. Chester, who is self-taught, has been painting all his life but started getting serious about his work in the 90s.

Painting isn’t the only way he honors these amazing winged mammals. Below I’ll share a recent poem inspired by the countless bats lost to white-nose syndrome.

For those of us who work with bats everyday, it isn’t hard to see the beauty inherent in them, or be inspired to want to share our love of bats with the world. But not everyone reads scientific journals, internet blogs, or popular magazines and newspapers. And not all of us are so skilled with quill or brush…

Thank you, Chester, for sharing your poetry and art with us.


They Once Flew Here (a poem dedicated to the memory of bats lost to WNS)
by Chester O. Martin

They once flew here
Across the darkened skies,
Awakened from their daily sleep
To feed among the running creeks,
To dip and swerve in wooded lanes
And capture insects on the wing.
Their numbers were in thousands score,
But now their presence is no more.
The dread disease took hold so fast
That none survived the holocaust.
The caves are quiet, the woods are still.
There once was life, and now there’s nil.
What brought it here we are not sure.
We struggle now to find a cure,
In hopes a new awakening
Will bring them to this place again
Until that time we wait and pray
That someday they’ll be back to stay.
We hold them in our thoughts so dear
Remembering – they once flew here.