Best time to see the bat colony emerge from Congress Bridge in Downtown Austin

An engineering mistake while widening the Congress Bridge in 80’s has now become a staple icon for the city as millions of bats have made their homes under the bridge. But many who have tried seeing the bats emerge have been noticing something; they're not really coming out.

Thousands of people can be seen lining Congress Ave. or hanging around Lady Bird Lake waiting to see the bats. George Sneed form Augusta, Georgia came with his kids. “Hearing a lot about this huge bat colony that's under the bridge, thought my kids might be interested in seeing what was going on,” he said.

But for many, it's not quite the sight they thought they were going to see. “They really couldn't make them out at first, so they weren't really able to see them,” Sneed said.

Diane Odegard is the Education and Public Outreach manager for Bats Conservation International; she said June is when the Mexican Free Tail Bats that make their home under the bridge are busy with their babies.  “There are plenty of bats there; they're just as many bats as there has always been but you just going to see them very well, right at this time of year. The mothers are taking care of their pup and they're going out more times during the night. Going out, coming back to nurse their pups, going out and coming back.”

Odegard said Mother Nature also plays a part. “They seem to have a good sense of what's going to happen with the weather and they don't fly out when it's raining or when it's windy. She said the best time to see the bats is in spring and then mid-July on. “In August the pups are out and forging on their own, so that's a really really good time to see them,” she said.

For those that want to see them now, you're best bet is on a boat tour, or right under the bridge, and be patient.  “Tuesday night at the bridge there where probably more bats than there have been for several nights coming out, but they didn't come out until after 9 o'clock and by about 930-935 it was a really great emergence but there really wasn’t anybody still left there to see them.”

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