Bat Appreciation Day and the Austin Bats
Today is Bat Appreciation Day! Since KingsIsle is located in Austin, Texas, home to the world’s largest urban bat colony, we had to take advantage of this fun holiday to tell players a little bit about the unique town we call home. One of the most interesting and unique attractions Austin has to offer is its very own bat colony!
While there are a few locations where the Austin bats live, the biggest population is right in downtown Austin, under the Congress Avenue Bridge. This bridge crosses over a reservoir of the Colorado River that runs through downtown, called Lady Bird Lake and named after former United States First Lady Lady Bird Johnson. Lady Bird Lake is a hotspot in the city for kayaking & paddle boarding, as well as running & walking the “hike and bike trail” that surrounds it, and watching the bats emerge on summer nights!
When the warmer months of the year roll around, 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats migrate from central Mexico to underneath the bridge, where they can be heard chattering during the day. Every night from March to November, just around dusk, the bats take flight by the thousands, providing the city with a unique and breathtaking tourist attraction.
When the bats first arrived to the Congress Bridge upon the completion of its renovations in 1980, the people of Austin were not pleased with their presence. Many citizens petitioned to have them removed, fearing the worst from the stereotypically dangerous animals. But with a little bit of research, it was clear that the bats were gentle creatures and did not pose a threat to humans if they didn’t try to touch them. So, they stayed! And since then, every summer night, the bats rid the city of up to 10,000 to 20,000 pounds of insects during their flight.
Annually, more than 100,000 people head out to the Austin American Statesman Bat Observation center just off of the bridge to witness the bats’ nightly flight. Have you ever had the chance to see them? Tell us about some unique things in your town in the comments! 🙂