Around this time every year, Austin, Texas becomes home to the largest urban bat colony in the world. Mexican Free-Tail bats migrate from Central Mexico to the Southwestern U.S. where they come to nest, and the result is a behemoth cloud of bats flying beneath the Congress Avenue Bridge every night during the hot Texas summer.
Hundreds of people gather to watch them, including kayakers on the Colorado River who sit directly underneath the bats as they fly out from the bridge. Even late at night, photographers, like Austin resident Jennifer Holcombe, are able to see them when their flash illuminates the darkness.
"I used my flash because it was so dark I couldn't even see them. When my flash went off it was exciting to see so many bats flying everywhere," Jennifer said.
Unfortunately, bats are one of the world's most endangered animals. They are often subject to habitat degradation, pollution, and disease, not to mention their frequent mistreatment by humans. That's why the Congress Bridge has been turned into an eco-tourism destination. Conservationists and the Austin community both want to make sure these flying mammals are protected, and that humans and bats can both enjoy the bridge together.
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Read more about protecting bats in Austin and all over the world:
Bat Conservation International