“Bat Bridge” is an obvious nickname for the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin. That’s the bridge where the bats hang out until they start to fly away at dusk.
Austin’s Congress Avenue Bridge (it was renamed for Governor Ann W. Richards after her death) was reconstructed in 1980; Mexican free-tailed bats quickly found a home underneath the bridge, making it the world’s largest urban bat colony. Austin itself is sometimes called Bat City.
Wikipedia: Congress Avenue Bridge
The Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge (formerly Congress Avenue Bridge) runs over the Colorado River, at Lady Bird Lake (formerly Town Lake) in Austin, Texas. The bridge is currently home to the world’s largest urban bat colony, making it a lucrative tourist attraction for the Texas capital.
Bat Conservation International
A Little History
Every summer night, hundreds of people gather to see the world’s largest urban bat colony emerge from under the Congress Avenue Bridge. These 1.5 million bats are fun to watch, but they’re also making our world a better place to live.
When engineers reconstructed downtown Austin’s Congress Avenue Bridge in 1980 they had no idea that new crevices beneath the bridge would make an ideal bat roost. Although bats had lived there for years, it was headline news when they suddenly began moving in by the thousands. Reacting in fear and ignorance, many people petitioned to have the bat colony eradicated.
About that time, BCI stepped in and told Austinites the surprising truth: that bats are gentle and incredibly sophisticated animals; that bat-watchers have nothing to fear if they don’t try to handle bats; and that on the nightly flights out from under the bridge, the Austin bats eat from 10,000 to 20,000 pounds of insects, including agricultural pests.
As the city came to appreciate its bats, the population under the Congress Avenue Bridge grew to be the largest urban bat colony in North America. With up to 1.5 million bats spiraling into the summer skies, Austin now has one of the most unusual and fascinating tourist attractions anywhere.
A Little Background
Austin’s bridge bats are Mexican free-tailed bats. They migrate each spring from central Mexico to various roosting sites throughout the southwestern U.S. Most of the colony is female, and in early June each one gives birth to a single baby bat, called a pup. At birth the babies weigh one-third as much as their mothers (the equivalent of a human giving birth to a 40-pound child!).
26 October 1991, Philadelphia (PA) Inquirer, pg. C3:
...“Bat Bridge in Austin, Texas, at dusk”...
14 May 1994, Austin (TX) American-Statesman, pg. 5:
Plus a killer view of Town Lake and the bat bridge.
Washington (DC) Post
In Austin, the Bats Under the Bridge
By Henry Lenard
The Washington Post
Sunday, July 4, 1999; Page E02
“You gotta go see the bats,” a colleague advised when he learned I was headed to Austin for a business conference. Knowing that I wouldn’t have much time for sightseeing, his description of a bridge in downtown Austin from which more than a million bats take flight at dusk each night from March through October—while sounding slightly exaggerated—was intriguing enough for me to make a mental note of it as I traveled to the Texas state capital.
So after I spent a day in meetings in the bland mausoleum of a suburban Austin hotel conference center, the thought of a few hours outdoors on a warm Texas evening was appealing. And when the cab driver didn’t bat an eye when asked if he knew of the “bat bridge,” I was off to a nature sideshow far more entertaining than I could have hoped for.
Google Groups: rec.travel.usa-canada
Date: Wed, 08 Nov 2006 14:25:46 -0500
Local: Wed, Nov 8 2006 3:25 pm
Subject: Re: Austin, TX dining suggestions
> I’ve been to Austin twice, although am going again and am interested in
> any suggestions for breakfast, BBQ and Tex-Mex. Thanks!
Just walk south about a half mile from the bat bridge, and you’ll find a number of excellent Tex-Mex places serving breakfast. Take your pick!
Google Groups: alt.running.out.of.newsgroups.names
From: Don Stockbauer
Date: Wed, 26 Sep 2007 20:09:58 -0700
Local: Wed, Sep 26 2007 11:09 pm
Subject: Re: Swanky restaurant
Also there is the Congress Street bat bridge:
The night we went was not a good one for seeing them, but on some nights people see thousands fly out.
Texas Triffid Ranch
10 July 2008 @ 07:26 pm
It Came From The Mailbox
(Not all that long ago, I could walk into a good half-dozen nurseries in the area and buy up bat guano collected from the Congress Avenue Bat Bridge in Austin, one of the largest colonies of Mexican free-tailed bats in the world. The idea is that the bats migrate back to southern Mexico to Brazil during the winter, allowing crews to bulldoze the guano, bag it up, and ship it all over the country, with the profits going into bat conservation. These days, though, nuthin’, and nobody can give me an answer. Am I going to have to go down to Austin with a big bucket and a shovel to get enough guano to make my tomatoes happy?)