I Wonder: Congress Ave. Bridge bats

I Wonder: Congress Ave. Bridge bats

Credit: Kelli Stoker

I Wonder: Congress Ave. Bridge bats

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by REBEKAH HOOD / KVUE.com

kvue.com

Posted on July 4, 2011 at 9:00 AM

Updated Saturday, Nov 9 at 12:59 PM

How can I see the famous Austin bats?

Summer’s here and the time is right for bat watching.

Every night hundreds of people gather in downtown Austin to witness the world's largest urban bat colony emerge from under the Congress Avenue Bridge.  About 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats fly out nightly, unknowingly producing over $10 million annually in tourism revenue for the city.

For the bats, it’s just a way of life. The animals started calling the crevices beneath the bridge home back in 1980 when engineers reconstructed the bridge, according to Bat Conservation International.

Now, the bats are a staple tourist attraction, but they also serve another purpose; the bats eat 10,000 to 20,000 pounds of insects and agricultural pests on their nightly flights.

This month, the bats seen flying are mostly mothers feeding, but in August, their children, known as pups, will be able to fly as well. September also proves to be a prime month for bat watching. Click here for a month-by-month bat watching schedule.

According to the Bat Hot Line, the bats are beginning to emerge from under the bridge between 8:30 and 9 p.m. Be sure to call the line at 512-416-5700 (category 3636) before planning your watch trip to get the latest flight times. Also, arrive early to claim a good spot along the bridge. You can also see the bats fly from the Austin American-Statesman’s public viewing area. Click here for more information.

What do you wonder about? Send your questions to iwonder@kvue.com.

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