Night Flight

All Things Texas


Janice Olson    

As sunshine gives way to dusk, there’s anticipation in the air. Around me people are milling around for a better position, jockeying for the optimum site to watch the phenomenon that is about to take place. On the hillsides and bridge, hundreds of people are talking, laughing. Children are running and playing, a shrilly, happy scream of a little one pierces the early night.

Just before the sun completely dips below the horizon and the sky turns inky black, the word is passed with rapid speed. They’re on the move. They’re leaving. Look, there they are! Then a slight hush fills the air for only a moment as the anticipation builds to a crescendo.

Hundreds of thousands of flapping wings penetrate the silence as bats take flight and fill the darkened sky. The long, continuous stream swoops low then high into the air weaving an elongated pattern across the sky, against the dusky heavens. The bats are on a quest.

Where am I?

I am in downtown Austin, Texas, at the Congress Avenue Bridge overlooking Town Lake, which serves as the home of upwards to 1.5 million roosting Mexican Free-Tail bats.

At dusk, from mid-March to November, the Mexican Free-Tails have a nightly ritual. The bats emerge from under the Congress Bridge to entertain those interested enough to stop, wait, and watch for this awesome occurrence. Leaving their roost at dusk, the bats blanket the sky as they head out to forage for food. (A little tidbit of interest: One bat can eat as many of 3,000 mosquitoes in a night.)

It’s a breathtaking sight in more ways than one. My only warning … be be sure to protect your head from the droppings. J Nonetheless, it’s a sight that you won’t want to miss if you visit our beautiful capitol in Austin, Texas.

Have you ever seen bats fly in mass? If you have, I’d love to hear about your experience of the Night Flight of the bats in Austin. Or maybe you would like to tell of another place such as Austin that has their own Night Flight.

’til the next time, … don’t miss out on the little pleasures of life. They are fleeting.


       Janice Olson

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