Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Bats, Bats, and More Bats - A Few Facts (Ain't cha got no rhymes for me?)

  • Where: Austin downtown under the Congress St. bridge (built 1980). The bats moved in soon after (also, in a more natural setting near San Antonio 20 million bats roost at Braken Cave)

  • Mexican free-tailed (Tadarida brasiliensis) : 1.5 million under the bridge all day, feeling groovy (visitors during the day can hear them chirping). Visitors at dusk can see them wisping away across the sky.

  • They eat at up to their body weight in moths and other insects each night

  • Estimated total consumption for Congress St. bridge colony per night: 10-15 tons of insects. Yum!

  • Size of these little gals: around 4-5 inches with 12-14 inch wingspans

  • Travel time when leaving: ~60 miles per hour

  • Travel distance: a couple miles from roost

  • In August the bats in this "maternity colony" each have a cute little pink pup (they all live in Austin only from around March to November before momma & pup heads South for the winter)

  • Life span of up to 18 years

  • They return to the bridge at dawn, but do they all come back at once? Can any early risers comment?

Sources: Bat Conservation International (based in Austin), Organization for Bat Conservation, Bats in American Bridges, and image from Wikipedia

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