Here at Bird-X, we are always discussing ways to get rid of “pests” – however, it’s nice to take a step back and see the benefits that these animals bring and the positive effects they can have on a community. I recently visited my hometown of Austin, TX and had the chance to witness the exquisite site of the urban bat population taking flight.
A Seasonal Tradition for Residents
Since the 1980’s when the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge was renovated (formerly known as the Congress Avenue Bridge), Mexican free tailed bats have been calling it home. The renovation gave these little guys a perfect place to nestle in for the summer, making this bridge home to the world’s largest urban bat colony!
Each year during the months of March through September, onlookers can witness the huge colony fill the skies at sunset. The best time to go is July or August because the mostly female colony has given birth, and the babies are old enough to fly. The colony usually reaches upwards of 1.5 million in number, all of which must feed on insects nightly. Needless to say it’s quite the sight to behold! Thousands upon thousands of bats flood out from under the bridge, swirling and diving to catch their dinner. Within minutes, the sky east of the bridge becomes speckled as the colony continues to ascend. All in all, it can take between 30 minutes to an hour for the entire colony to take flight.
Having grown up in this area I have witnessed this gorgeous sight on many occasions, but every time I still stand in awe. Now I’ll admit the smell of bat guano is rather unpleasant and can make the event a little less enjoyable. I suggest standing atop the famous bridge on the pedestrian side walk. I have known many to enjoy the sight from the grassy area just south of the bridge donated by the Austin American Statesman for bat watching or even renting a kayak to paddle underneath the bridge. Be advised though, that there is some danger with being pooped on so bring a light jacket to cover up. Also, if you do come into close proximity of a bat make sure not to touch it. Although they can be small and furry, they are still wild animals and precaution must be taken.
Tourist Attraction & Natural Pest Controllers
It is recorded that approximately 100,000 people come each summer to witness the bats take flight, which generates about 10 million dollars of revenue for the city each year in tourism. The bats also eat between 10,000-20,000 pounds of insects every night, which as a native Texan I can greatly appreciate. Mosquitos, among other insects, can be quite numerous and highly bothersome in this area. So not only do the bats positively affect Austin’s economy, but they also help keep the residents a bit more comfortable.
Bat Control – It’s Easy to be Humane
That being said most residents of Austin, myself included, have found the occasional wayward bat in buildings or residential areas they shouldn’t be. Bird-X has a handful of products meant to deter bats such as the Transonic Pro (residential grade unit), the QuadBlaster QB-4 (residential/commercial grade unit), or the Ultrason-X (commercial grade unit). All of these products utilize ultrasonic frequencies to safely deter the bats from unwanted locations; so Austinites (as well as everyone else) can still reap the benefits of their bat population, while humanely keeping bats out of their attics. For more information about how to deter bats, click here. If you’d like to read about the scientific research behind our products, click here.
-Elizabeth Price, Bird-X Blogger