Whether a bat enthusiast or not, many just love to take in an evening view of bats in Austin as one of the many local Austin, Texas attractions.
Simply put, people are batty for Austin’s world-renowned Mexico free-tailed bats and their night 2-mile high flight patterns, and feeding frenzy of Austin insects. These bats are the fastest mammals in the world at 99 mph.
Thanks to Lady Bird Lake, formerly Town Lake, circa 1980 renovations making a home for the bats in Austin, Texas, the South Congress Bridge, also known as the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge, bats put on a nightly spectacular show of dynamic aerial flight typically lasting 45 to 60 minutes long.
Whether attending the Austin Bat Festival, a visiting tourist, or a Keep Austin Weird local, bats in Austin under the South Congress Bridge entertain and amaze all walks of life, from the youngest to the oldest.
From March through November of each year, large groups of locals and tourists visit bats in Austin, Texas.
Each summer night from 8PM to 9PM, many bat enthusiasts and watchers stake out lookout spots below and above the South Congress Bridge. It’s one of the best places to catch a direct view of the South Congress Bridge Bats, also known as Brazilian free-tailed bats, emerging and shooting out for their nightly feeding and aerial show.
The bats in Austin are a medium-sized bats with broad, black, forward pointing ears, and wrinkled lips, long and narrow wings, and typically attain reddish to dark brown or gray fur color.
Their tails extend more than one third beyond the size of their body, offering bats in Austin great flight patterns and precision.
The bats of the South Congress Bridge in Austin, Texas also helps keep Austin’s insect population at bay and in check.
Eating roughly 20-30 thousand pounds of insects on each night flight, nearly one and a half million bats in Austin call the South Congress Bridge home during this time period. Most bat colonies of a million or more can consume up too 250 tons of a variety of insects in a given night.
Drawn to areas with water access and warm conditions, most bats in Austin delight in moths, crickets, grasshoppers, and Texas-size mosquitoes that the South Congress Bridge offers in great number.
Every summer night, hundreds of people gather to see the world's largest urban bat colony emerge from under the Congress Avenue Bridge in downtown Austin, Texas. These 1.5 million bats are fun to watch, but they're also making our world a better place to live.
When engineers reconstructed the Congress Avenue Bridge in 1980 they had no idea that new crevices beneath the bridge would make an ideal bat roost. Although bats had lived there for years, it was headline news when they suddenly began moving in by the thousands. Reacting in fear and ignorance, many people petitioned to have the bat colony eradicated.
About that time, Merlin Tuttle brought BCI to Austin and told the city the surprising truth: that bats are gentle and incredibly sophisticated animals.
As the city came to appreciate its bats, the population under the Congress Avenue Bridge grew to be the largest urban bat colony in North America.
The Austin American-Statesman created the Statesman Bat Observation Center adjacent to the Congress Bridge, giving visitors a dedicated area to view the nightly emergence. It is estimated that more than 100,000 people visit the bridge to witness the bat flight, generating ten million dollars in tourism revenue annually.