Best time to travel to Texas

Bat Watching in Texas 2024

Millions of little flying mammals await dusk to fly out of their summer homes in search of food

Best time: March–October

Mexican Free-Tailed Bats in Round Rock
Bat 'cloud' near the Bracken Cave
Bracken Bat Cave
Bats leaving the Congress St. Bridge, Austin

Did you know that Texas is the summer home for the largest colony of bats in the world? The Mexican free-tailed bat is one of the most abundant in North America and is the state bat of Texas. These small flying mammals concentrate here from March till October.

They come every summer, to give birth to the new generation ​of bats. Bracken Cave is where they stay till dusk. But when the sun goes down, millions of bats pour from the cave to enjoy the nightlife and search for food. The number of bats staying there is over 20 million. To protect the bats, access to the cave and surrounding property is strictly controlled. It is open to the public for viewing only on select summer nights.

The Congress Street Bridge in Austin is another place home to numerous bats. Over 1.5 million bats live beneath the bridge, which makes it the largest urban bat colony in North America. This place is a popular summer night spot for viewing the clouds of bats flying out under the bridge in search of insects to feed on.

Practical info

When is the best time to visit Texas for bat watching?

In Texas, the best time to watch bats is during March-October when Mexican free-tailed bats give birth to their young and are most active. Some location highlights include the Congress Street Bridge and Bracken Cave which offer ideal spots for bat watching and concentration.

Where can I see the largest urban bat colony in North America?

If you’re looking to visit the largest bat colony in North America, check out the Congress Street Bridge in Austin. Over 1.5 million bats live beneath this bridge and visitors can watch as they fly out at night in search of their meals. The bridge offers a great vantage point for onlookers to witness the bats in action.

How many bats can be seen during the flight of the Mexican free-tailed bats?

The number of bats present for the Mexican free-tailed bats flight is exceptional! With over twenty million in Bracken Cave and millions more at the Congress Street Bridge, these locations offer a chance to see a massive amount of bats take to the skies at night!

Are there special regulations or restrictions on accessing Bracken Cave?

Bracken Cave entry regulations are strict to maintain protection for the bats. Book a bat flight viewing tour with Bat Conservation International to access the cave. During select summer nights, it is open for public viewing. Plan ahead as reservations are required, and the cave is closed in winter since it shelters the nursery and roosting site.

Apart from Bracken Cave and Congress Street Bridge, are there any other spots to watch bats in Texas?

In addition to the top spots like Bracken Cave and Congress Street Bridge, other Texas bat watching locations exist. Eckert James River Bat Cave Preserve in Mason boasts three million bats. Frio Bat Cave welcomes around twelve million bats for summer roosting while Old Tunnel State Park, Devil’s Sinkhole State Natural Area, and Bracken Bat Flight in San Antonio are among other recommended spots.

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