Congress Avenue Bat Bridge

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Congress Avenue Bat Bridge

As told by
Home of the largest urban bat population in the world.
Best time of day:

What everyone knows

Seance 1980 when the congress avenue bridge was expanded, Roughly 750,000 Mexican free-tailed bats migrate here every year from a system of coves in central Mexico.

What they don't tell you

The Bats show up every year to have their babies. The babies or “pups” are born mid-June increasing the bat count to over 1.5 million. The pups are nursed by their mothers for four to six weeks then start to fly and feed on their own. The densest concentrations of free-tailed bats are found living in Bracken Cave near San Antonio, Texas. Their colonies can number over 20,000,000. When they emerge every night to feed they show up on local Doppler radar as a storm system.

Do it like a local

Pro Tip,The best way to see the bats is to come out on a Bat viewing adventure. The viewing lawn is a great spot to lay out a blanket and have a picnic before the emergence starts.

For the History Buffs

The bridge originally opened on April 4th, 1910, built only as wide as the main arches underneath. When cars came along (first model T built-in 1912)... The bridge was only wide enough for two lanes. The bridge was expanded from two to six lanes in 1980 The expansion joints underneath the newly expanded bridge proved to be a perfect habitat for bats… this was unintentional. Bats were not initially welcome to the bridge, locals were afraid of disease and getting bit. (Local Headlines read “BATS INVADE AUSTIN” & “DON'T LET YOUR CHILDREN PLAY BY THE CONGRESS BRIDGE AFTER DARK” Locals took it unto themselves to rid the area of its new furry inhabitants by shooting them with shotguns apon there nightly emergence & pouring acid into the cracks atop the bridge. Bat Conservation International caught wind of the bat eradication efforts and moved there international headquarters to Austin to help conserve and protect the unique bat population. Mexican free-tailed bats are very important for keeping crop pests in check as they can eat up to two-thirds of their body weight in insects each night, especially while lactating and feeding young. With the large numbers of agricultural pests they eat, research has demonstrated that these bats can save farmers up to two applications of pesticides per year. They can eat their body weight in bigs nightly, that would be like one of us eating 25 pizzas in one night… When the first cold fronts start pushing through the Texas Hill Country in late October to mid-November, the Mexican free-tailed bats begin their migration back to Mexico. In 1995, the Texas State Legislature named the Mexican free-tailed bat as the "state flying mammal."
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