As twilight settled over the Congress Avenue Bridge, the nightly crowd gathered. They spread blankets and lawn chairs on the grassy river bank below the bridge. Some brought picnic lunches, while others tossed Frisbees, but they all waited for dark. On the bridge above the river more people crowded along the railing for a better view. Customers more interested in the coming sight than eating packed the restaurants above the bridge.
As the sun slid behind the buildings of downtown Austin, Texas, shadows enveloped the bridge. Soft rustling noises began to emanate from the underside of the bridge. Frisbee games stopped, and the crowd grew silent.
Then the bats streamed out.
First dozens … then hundreds … then hundreds of thousands blackened the sky like a living thundercloud. The soft flutter of three million membranous wings filled the air as the colony of Mexican free-tailed bats left their roosts under the bridge for their nightly feeding. They would eat ten thousand to thirty thousand pounds of insects by dawn.
Congress Avenue Bridge is one of about sixty bridges in Texas that house a total of six million bats. The citizens of Austin once feared bats, but now they proudly refer to their city as the «Bat Capital of America.»
Bats have three important jobs in God’s creation. First, they pollinate plants. In addition, they spread seeds when they eat fruit. And finally, they help control the Insect pow Hat ion.
Bats play a vital role in the balance of nature, so give hats a break!