While most people think that bat watching in Austin is a year-round event and experience, the truth is that seeing bats in Austin is an experience that only takes place from March to late September each year.
Based on a number of external factors that alter when and for how long bats fly in Austin each year, bats fly from the Congress Avenue Bridge on average 225-250 evenings or nights in a given year.
However, there are years that, for whatever reason, the bats residing in Austin decide or are forced to vacation a bit longer before migrating to Mexico to live la Vida Loca for 4-5 months.
Sometimes bats have been spotted flying from the Congress Avenue Bridge by onlookers and passersby as late as November. However, most bats vacate the Congress Avenue Bridge long before the first cold snap hits the central Texas region and just before the fall time change.
Why are there so many bats in Austin, Texas?
Without fail since the early 1980s, bats have long frequented the migration route between Austin, Northern, and Central Mexico. In fact, Mexican free-tailed bats have been called Austin their second home dating back to the late 1800s.
Austin’s bat population exploded in the 1980s with the remodel of the Congress Avenue Bridge. It’s also known as The Ann W. Richards Bridge over Lady Bird Lake. This bridge offers the perfect environment for bat-acular nursery to thrive, becoming an iconic t-shirt worthy cultural symbol of Austin, Texas.
Best time to see and watch the bats in Austin fly
As originally stated, the bat watching experience occurs mostly each spring and summer evening roughly 30-45 minutes before the sunsets. The best time to watch the bats in Austin fly is the months of June and August.
June is a good time because roosting bats, all-female, typically give birth to their sole bat pup. In fact, the northernmost end of the Congress Avenue Bridge is known as the bat nursery. The birthing of bat pups instantly doubles Austin’s bat population in a 30-40 day period, quickly skyrocketing into the millions. This allows for a great bat watching experience as mothers fly from the bridge in search of food and water.
The month of August is a good choice too. Why? Well, the majority of the bat pups are already consistently flying or ready to fly. As far as the eye can see, it’s as if the bats are a never-ending stream of billowing smoke. For nearly 1-2 hours, bat moms and their pups drop from the bridge and glide into a flight of feasting. They typically do this well into early and mid-September before migrating to Mexico for the winter.
While you can expect to see and watch the bats fly for a decent part of each year, it’s best to set calendar reminders as well as the visit and subscribe to BatsInAustin.com for the latest and down to the minute projected bat flight times from the Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin, Texas.