More than 50,000 Mexican free-tailed bats have once again made a summer home for themselves under the Camden Street Bridge on the Museum Reach of the San Antonio River and the community is invited to learn about the bats while watching their nighttime flight from underneath the bridge.
The San Antonio River Authority (SARA), Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TWPD), and Bat Conservation International (BCI) will host a public educational series Bat Loco every Tuesday from July 21 to Aug. 4. Wildlife experts from TPWD and BCI will teach community members about the importance of bats and clarify popular misconceptions – like the classic assumption that all bats have rabies and suck blood.
The Bat Loco Bash is set for August 11 from 6-9 p.m. to close out the series with a celebration of live music, booths, and children’s activities, all of which are free to the public.
Parking for the event series is available at the Hwy. 281 underpass on Newell St. and Avenue A.
The intersection of Camden and Newell streets will be closed down during each of the events, and attendees are encouraged to bring chairs and get comfortable for the lecture series from 7:30 to 9 p.m. before the bats take off around 9 p.m. The series has grown quite the following over the years, starting off with about 50 people total in 2011 and now expecting up to 700 people per evening.
Yvie Serbones, SARA community relations coordinator, said in past years the bats have flown from under the bridge earlier than expected, but she doesn’t think that will be the case this year because of the recent rains.
“Thanks to the rain there are more bugs in the area so the bats don’t have to fly as far to find food so they are taking off later,” she said.
She said she hopes the bats take off at 9 or 9:30 p.m., but their flight could end up being later.
Serbones said bats benefit the environment by eating bugs, which saves farmers millions of dollars on pesticides for their crops.
The 50,000 bats that live under the I-35 bridge are all males, and live in what is called a bachelor colony, while a group of 1.5 million female bats live under the Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin. Another colony of bats congregate at Bracken Cave on the outskirts of San Antonio, which is the summer home to the world’s largest bat colony.
*Featured/top image: Bats fly from the Camden Street Bridge during a previous Bat Loco event. Photo and video courtesy San Antonio River Authority.