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Go batty at the Congress Ave bridge!
In the spring, thousands of bats remigrate to Austin and live for the summer under the Congress bridge. And in the spring, thousands of tourists migrate UNDERNEATH the bridge to watch the nightly flight of the bats. While it's not the most exciting thing to do, it makes for great pictures, you meet other great visitors, and it's the only time you'll EVER see so many bats!
- Family Travel
The Bats at Congress Avenue Bridge
Austin is home to the largest urban bat population in the world. Every evening from March to early November, 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats emerge from their nests under the Congress Avenue Bridge and swarm out of the city on their way to feed. It's an incredible sight to see, and you get amazingly close to the action, either on the bridge or the riverbanks below.
Where the Bats Fly Free
The big tourist thing to do is go see the Mexican Free tail bats on South Congress and it is really worth checking out at least once. It has become so popular that on any given night 40-75 people eagerly await the "Bat Show". About 1.5 million Mexican free tail bats leave from under the Congress Street Bridge every day from Mid March through November. When I have seen them it is pretty close to dark or right at dark, so don't show up too early or you will be waiting for a while..
Boat tours are available through Lone Star Riverboat 512-327-1388 and Capital Cruises 512-480-9264 for about $8.00 per person. Both are located behind the Hyatt Hotel on townlake.
- Adventure Travel
Batty over Bats
Austin is the home of the nations largest urban bat colony. I believe the last count was 1 million +.
During the spring/summer months, the Congress Ave. bridge near down town Austin lets loose such a congergation of bats, it looks like a black cloud escaping from under this busy bridge.
There are numerous locations to see the bats, on the bridge it's self or in the park along the Colorado River.
Amazing Sky Line of....bats
I learned about the bats the first time I was teaching sound and ecolocation. I had googled bats and found this amazing opportunity.
At sunset hundreds, thousands, of mexican-tailed bats leave the bridge in search of food. It's an amazing view to watch them from the bridge. It's difficult to get the timing of it right, though. If you don't live in Austin I would get there maybe an hour before. In the Hilton hotel beside the bridge there's an outdoor TGI Friday's where you can get a drink and watch with time. That would be my only suggestion!
***I missed the viewing and we were out there 30 minutes before sunset.
Austin Has Gone "Batty"!
Although bats congregating beneath the Congress Bridge (pic #2)once aggravated Austin's residents, they now celebrate them as one of their top attractions!
Nestled within the expansion joints of the bridge, millions of Mexican free-tailed bats have created a 'maternity' center. A nursery for bats, so to speak. Although males are a minority, they are still present in this colony.
Austin has educated itself to see the bats as making a positive contribution to the city, rather than a negative. Bats can eat hundreds and hundreds of pounds of mosquitos and other annoying pests each day. They also provide guano--a potent fertilizer-- which drops into Lady Bird Lake, creating lush greenery along its banks.
There are two 'bat cruises' plying Lady Bird Lake: Capital Cruises and Lonestar Riverboat Cruises. See following tip...
Interesting Facts: Our guide informed us that unlike birds, bats do not glide but instead have to flap their wings at all times. This particular type weighs about the same as three nickles. They are not blind as we have all been led to think, but can see colors with the exception of red. These small mammals can fly up to 10,000 feet, but generally like to fly over the tree tops for protection.
- Family Travel
A Batty Boat Cruise on Lady Bird Lake
Since we missed seeing one of Austin's more unique attractions on our last visit, we were determined not to miss it this time--the BAT CRUISE on Lady Bird Lake.
I found two tour companies that regularly scheduled 'bat cruises' each evening. We booked our tour on line with Lonestar Riverboat. We thought we were booking a paddleboat, but were surprised to find ourselves on a pontoon instead.
The bats were leaving their protective niches beneath the bridge a bit earlier that week, so our Captain made sure we were off and running on time. We were given a brief history of the lake (once known as Town Lake) and some of the buildings seen from our vantage point as we approached Congress Bridge.
We passed Auditorium Park, where dogs and their owners were acquainting themselves with each other and spotted several white swans who were out for their last swim of the day. Once we were in place near the bridge, our Captain guide launched into a lengthy talk about these curious little mammals. She was very informative (see earlier tip)!
FYI: Boarding was at 7:15pm with departure time at 8p.m. (Seats were not held beyond 7:45 p.m., so get there early!) We were filled to the max. There are no restrooms at the boarding site or on the boat.
Tours are for one hour (ours ran longer) and reservations are recommended for this popular attraction. Tours run from March-October: adults $8, children $5 (under 12) and seniors $6.
- Sailing and Boating
- Family Travel
Stand on bridge - bats will come.
People do this, usually that means you should avoid it, but in this case it's worth doing.
Go to the Congress St. bridge and stand on the east side, just before sunset. Wait, soon billions of bats will fly out from under the bridge, it's pretty cool, they'll keep coming out for... I don't know, 20 minutes or so. Make sure you don't watch from under the bridge, unless you like bat pee in your hair.
Oh yeah, this only happens in the summer (I think), definately not in the winter.
The largest urban collection of Mexican Free tailed Bats enjoys it's residence under the Congress Bridge. The best viewing months are July-August and the emergence time is generally between 7:15-8:15. Head over to the SW corner of the bridge and pick a spot on the grass. Some people stand on the bridge and look down or choose the TGI Fridays patio for viewing.
Congress Bridge Bats
Under the Congress St. Bridge in the summer are 1.5 million Mexican Free-tailed bats. The bats are harmless and eat only insects. During the summer at sun-down the adult bats leave the colony under the bridge to hunt insects at night. It is amazing to watch the million or so bats leave. As long as you are not expecting too much, I think most people would enjoy it. You can park at the Austin American-Statesman parking lot to watch. The best time to view them is late August. Since it is dusk when they come out, I find that it is easier to see them on top of the bridge when the background is the water from Lake Austin.
From March to November, a bat colony is sheltered under the Congress Bridge. In Winter, they migrate in the South, in Mexico.
At the day light, the bats are unvisible, hiden by the structure of the bridge. Even, passing under the bridge on a boat, we cannot see them.
At dusk (8PM in early April when we were there), they flew off all together. 1 million and half little bats ! They seem to get out all from the South part of the bridge and they fly in several groups to the forest in order to eat some insects (moskitos mainly). Each night, the bats devour 10.000 to 30.000 lbs of insects. We regreted they have not eaten all the moskitos because we have been stang by the "food" during the show.
I ignore when they go back (certainly during the night) and if they are still together. But each evening, the show is presented. It lasts around 20 min.
Where is the best place to see the bats. We attended the sight twice and I cannot say where is really the best point to see it :
- the boat (Lonestar Riverboat for example) : the picture was shot from its desk (8$ for the bat tour).
- the park which is located on the South bank and which have a free parking after 6PM (Austin American Statesman's West parking). There is a sign explaining the life of the bats.
- the bridge itself, especially its South side.
Each evening, all the tourists staying in Austin are gathered there, just before going on the 6th Street.
More bats on the travelogue.
- Family Travel
The Congress bridge houses the largest urban colony of Mexican free tail bats in the USA. It is reported that up to a million bats call this bridge home. Go there from early dusk to watch them take flight.
Another uniquely weird Austin experience!
Between April and November, Austin is host to a pretty unique spectacle: every evening at sunset, up to a million bats (not kidding) fly over Congress Ave bridge! For a few minutes you'll get to watch this black wave of tiny bats stream by - it has apparenly become quite a tradition for tourists and locals to go down to Town Lake to watch the bats go by. The most daring will stand right on the bridge but you have to remember that with a million bats flying by, chances are they're going to drop something on you..! We found a very comfortable spot on the hill behind the Radisson Hotel - we were at a safe distance from the action, but some bats did fly by over our heads as if to say hello! A quite memorable experience.
Check out the bats!!
Bat's have migrated to Austin TX right downtown under the main bridge. It is the most amazing thing you will ever see. These bats were brought here from Mexico because of mosquito's that carried disease's. The bats were brought to eat them, which worked. Now there are millions of bats that fly out in streams at sunset. The best time to see them is durring the summer because for the winter most migrate to Mexico.
- Adventure Travel
- Family Travel
This is really batty
Town Lake is one of the most beautiful municipal lakes in America. There is a street which crosses Town Lake named Congress Avenue. Under the Congress Avenue bridge across Town Lake an estimated 1.5 million Mexican free-tail bats have taken up residence. Perhaps fulfilling the old adage that some people can make a dollar from anything, Austin has just held its first official BatFest. Two boat companies offered cruises on Town Lake to watch the bats in flight. The Radisson Hotel even maintained a Bat Board in their lobby with updates on bat activities. Perhaps most interestingly, the Austin Convention & Visitor's Bureau developed an Adopt-a-Bat program which offered hotel and restaurant discounts along with an official bat adoption certificate and a picture of your new child (or one just like it). I could not believe that they were having the first BatFest but it seemed to go over very well so mark your calendars for next September. You just might like it.
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