Austin is home to several things: live music, the University of Texas, the state capital; however several folks don’t understand Austin is additionally home to the state’s largest urban bat community-and it’s right downtown. A lot of than 750,000 Mexican Free-Tail bats build their home underneath the beams of the Congress Avenue bridge. Following renovations of the iconic bridge in 1980, the bat population took up shelter beneath the bridge, and it’s been their home every summer since.
During the cooler months, the bats build their home in Mexico, however every year during March and April they make their way North to Austin to offer birth and go after the cities abundant bugs (coincidentally, the summer months are when Austin’s cricket population reaches its height yet). And before the sun goes down, when they’re resting up for their nightly romp around Austin, the bats pay their time underneath the Congress Avenue bridge. Every evening, just before nightfall, the bats leave their refuge en masse, in an unbelievable natural exodus-a huge swarm of tons of thousands of Mexican Free-Tail bats swirls its manner up round the bridge, then dissipates as the bats head off in every direction to feast.
Apparently, the renovations created in 1980 left deep crevices within the bridge, which provide an ideal habitat for the bat colony. Many Austinites think about this an accidental blessing, as the bats are credited with greatly clipping on the insect population each inside the city and throughout the encompassing countryside. Of course, it’s estimated that, as a cluster, the bats consume between 10,000 and 30,000 pounds of insects!
This unbelievable sight has become an integral part of summer in Austin, and attracts tons of spectators nightly throughout the summer months, culminating in late August, when the colony is at its largest-averaging around 1.5 million bats. Austinites have come to treasure and even celebrate this unique natural phenomenon, with a summer celebration called BatFest. Held throughout the last weekend of August each year, BatFest brings together all of Austin’s favorite things-live music, food, folks and (you guessed it) the Mexican Free-Tail bats. The family-friendly event features academic displays, arts and crafts, and a whole host of activities centering around the Congress Avenue bridge bats-plus more than 30 bands rocking the weekend away from 2 totally different stages.
Austinites love a smart reason to party-it’s a trait town is well known for. In fact, BatFast falls just some weeks before Austin’s biggest music competition, Austin City Limits, which draws thousands of guests a year and brings the country’s hottest bands to Austin, Texas, for one sweltering weekend each September. But, in contrast to ACL or South by Southwest-Austin’s other major music competition, that conjointly doubles as a film pageant-BatFest is initial and foremost regarding promoting the protection and appreciation of one of Austin’s natural wonders.
During a city with such strong environmental pride, and wonderful resources like Barton Springs Pool and Edwards Aquifer, it’s no wonder this unimaginable phenomenon would capture the imaginations-and hearts-of thus many.
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