2404 IH 35 S.,
Austin TX 78704
People watching bats emerge from Congress Ave.
bridge. Photo Copyright 2011 Jack Shirley
Austin's Bat Swarm
by David W. Crump
If you are in downtown Austin on an early summer evening, it is hard to miss our bat swarm. The bat colony emerges just before sundown from their roost under the Congress Street Bridge in search of an insect supper. A winding horizontal vortex of an estimated 1.5 million Mexican Free-Tailed Bats streams from beneath the bridge and then snakes along Lady Bird Lake.
About the Austin Bat Colony
Austin hosts a nursing colony. The bat mothers arrive in early spring and have their baby “pup” normally in mid-June. The young bats learn to fly by late August and then join the evening swarm to hunt for insects. This makes for the most impressive emergences in late August and September evenings. The colony relocates south to Mexico as the colder temperatures of fall approach in October.
Mexican Free-Tailed are medium-sized insect eating bats. They are very fast flyers reaching speeds of 60 mph. They are also long-distance travelers often migrating up to a thousand miles between central Mexico, Texas and beyond. The bats benefit our region with their voracious appetite for flying insects.
More information about bats ... www.batcon.org
Austin's Bat Monument
Central Texas hosts many other bat colonies. The largest is a huge 20 million strong colony near San Antonio in Bracken Cave. Another large colony is located in the Old Tunnel Wildlife Management area near Fredericksburg. A new colony also has just started under the McNeil bridge of I-35 in Round Rock.
Best Time & Place to View
The bats normally emerge just before sundown and fly east to hunt for insects in the Colorado River valley. The south sidewalk of the Congress Bridge is my favorite spot. While other views are available, the Congress Bridge lets you see the columns of bats as they fly east down the river. The bridge vantage point also avoids the odor which can be intense. Arrive about an hour before sundown to claim a good spot. Also, take the time to read the education signs in the small park on the southeast bank next to the bridge.
Bat hotline - Flights normally occurs around 8 to 8:30 pm but could be earlier or later. Call the Bat Hotline at 416-5700 ext. 3636 for estimated flight times.
The bat swarm from the Congress Avenue Bridge is part of what keeps Austin fun and weird. Enjoy!
David W. Crump, Ross Gray Insurance Agency
New Bat Colony in Kyle05-Sep-2011
A new Mexican Free-Tail bat colony has formed under the I-35 bridge near the interchange with FM 162..