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Austin 2013 239The outside temperatures are warm, uncomfortably warm.  It is summer in Texas.  This is the season for bats under the Congress River Bridge.

Scores of people line the bridge as the sun closes in on the horizon.  Daylight disappears.  Bright colors of yellow and orange fill up the sky.

From south of the border Mexican Free-tail bats have mated.  Close to a million pregnant female bats migrate to Austin, Texas for an annual migration.  The male bats are not welcome.  They head to a Texas cave to take in the Texas summer.

A bridge in Austin that spans Lake Lady Bird Johnson is the site for this phenomenon.  When the bridge was retrofitted with expansion joints few had any idea that it would be the perfect setting for these mammals of the night air.  But, these creatures discovered this ideal habitat by the hundreds of thousands.

During the day, they cloister themselves in these dark recesses through narrow slits in the concrete.  There they rest, chirp and wait until feeding time.  That is when life becomes exciting.

Just after dusk, the Creator has programmed into these curious creatures a signal.  First, a few scout bats fly out and test the temperature, weather conditions and other key data entry points.  Then, a massive and steady stream of fast flying bats pour out from beneath the bridge.

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Like a swarm of streaking river in the sky, this black horde traces the bridges’ edge, turns sharply to follow the tree line and scatter into the Texas country side.  They are on a mission.  Each bat shares a common appetite.  They are hungry and ready for a 30 mile radius to consume every mosquito or flying insect that their radar can trap in their flight pattern.

Initially, they stick together for safety.  Birds of prey are waiting for their emergence.  These feathered flyers are hungry too.  They dive and duck through the stream of tasty morsels.  However, the Creator has made the numbers of the bats lend to their survival.

It takes nearly two hours for the bats to leave the bridge.  The explosion captivates tourists and locals alike.  Our senses of what we see is etched in our memories.  Then, the aroma a lot like corn chips fills the river surface from the diet of these little mammals.  A slight mist showers our tour boat guests with the obvious scattering of flying animals.  The touch of the Master’s creation has entertained us all.

photo credit: brucefong photography