The other night we took a friend to see the Mexican Free-tailed Bats at the Congress Street Bridge here in Austin, Texas. This is the largest urban bat colony in the world. It had been a while since I had seen it and reminded me of the great photo opportunities I've had with this species.
The Mexican Free-tailed or sometimes called Brazillian Free-tailed Bat (Tadarida brasiliensis) is a wide-ranging bat found throughout North, Central and South America. They get their name because of their long, prominent tail.
They can roost in a number of different places from buildings to trees, but they are probably best known for the large colonies they form in caves. The photo above was taken at the Eckert James River Bat cave owned by the Nature Conservancy. It is one of the largest bat nursuries in North America and his home to around 4 million bats throughout the summer. The emergences from this cave are quite impressive.
The two photos above were taken at Bracken Cave owned by Bat Conservation International. It is home to the largest bat colony in the world and is home to some 20 million Mexican Free-tailed bats that emerge every night throughout the summer. It is truly a spectacular phenomenon and I encourage anyone who has the opportunity to watch an emergence. They are so numerous when coming out of the cave that as they fly in a cyclone like pattern up and out of the entrance, some bats get pushed to the outside and are actually impaled on prickly pear cactus spines!
- John and Kendra Abbott
- John is Curator of Entomology at the University of Texas at Austin. Kendra is a Professor at St. Edwards University in Austin. John has focused on dragonflies and damselflies in his career. He has two books Dragonflies and Damselflies of Texas and the South-central United States and The Damselflies of Texas. He is currently working on the Dragonflies of Texas. John and Kendra are also currently both working on revising the Peterson Field Guide to Insects of North America. We have had the opportunity to travel extensively throughout Latin America, Africa and other parts of the world where we enjoy taking photos of pretty much anything that will allow us to capture its image. We are lucky enough to be able to teach students about the amazing biodiversity we see and to travel and photograph together.