Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Austin Bat Colony

Today’s Family Friendly Free-bee is actually something that only happens at night, so I guess it should be called Tonight’s Family Friendly Free-bee. In Austin, TX there is a bridge downtown on Congress Avenue. This is the home of some rather interesting creatures. There are more than a million and a half of them, and they make their home under this bridge. What are they? Bats.
That’s right; over a million and a half urban bats live under the Congress Avenue Bridge in downtown Austin, TX. Now, going down to the bridge and looking for the bats is not very productive. They are well hidden and asleep all day long. However, if you want to see something truly amazing, sit on the grassy hill in the shadow of the bridge and wait for the beginnings of sunset. Then, as if magically orchestrated, the bats suddenly begin to immerge and fly in chorus around the columns of the bridge and along the bank of the river. Tonight’s performance began at 7:20 pm and lasted for more than 5 minutes. It was amazing.
Our sons were full of questions about why the bats all waited until the same time to appear and why they all followed the same flight path. Was there a leader they all followed? Did they all communicate and vote on when they would be going out for the night? Why didn’t they break off into groups to go hunting? Wouldn’t there be more food if they weren’t all together like that? We will probably be scouring the internet in order to satisfy their curiosity.
Our family gave this one 5 thumbs up. The waiting wasn’t even bad since you can call the bat hot line to find out approximately when the bats will be taking off. They tell you when to expect the bats based on the habits of recent days and the time of year. It’s pretty cool, but don’t forget your camera.

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