Houston’s Bat Colony

Houston’s Bat Colony

When Husband’s sister came for a visit she told us that Houston had a bat colony. I knew that Austin did, our kids told us about their visit to see it. I was excited to learn that Houston had one, too. We, unfortunately, didn’t have time when Sister-in-law was here, but Husband and I took a trip to see it one Sunday evening.

It was well worth it!

The bat colony lives on Waugh Drive under the bridge that crosses the Buffalo Bayou. The park has made a little viewing deck for our convenience, although, most everyone sits on the bank beside the bridge.

We GPS’d it and arrived an hour or so before dusk when the bats emerge from under the bridge. It’s a good thing we arrived that early because we had to drive up and down Allen Parkway to find a parking space. We parked on the street near the Gus S. Wortham Fountain, better known as the Dandelion Fountain. It was a beautiful walk up along the Bayou to the corner and the observation area.

The crowd slowly grew, but not enormous and people enjoyed themselves chatting and laughing. The observation area is on the sidewalk of the Buffalo Bayou Park and it was enjoyable watching the bikers and joggers passing by as well as viewing the Bayou.

We stood a few feet from the bridge, on the walkway that runs under it and let me tell you the smell was, well, nasty. The bat urine and feces put up quite a stink. Signs posted tell you to keep your distance from the underpass during the time when the bats emerge, but as the bikers and joggers were passing under the bridge without incident, we decided to take a chance and walk under before the bats emerged.

Two things: the smell and the sound. The smell combined with the squeaking and scratching of the bats in the cracks on the underside of the bridge gave me the creeps. I left almost as quickly as I went in.

We took our place along the walkway to view the bats. There’s no set time, bats are on their own timetable. But slowly we saw a few exit, then a few more and then a clump of them here and there.

After a few minutes, a few short minutes, the crowd started thinning. I thought that might be it. No big deal. However, a few dedicated people stayed and so we stayed, too. We are those people who stay through the credits of a movie just in case the director gives you something extra. And the bats didn’t disappoint! They gave us something extra!

More and more and more bats emerged! Larger and longer groups flowed out. Then, Husband noticed a flickering, a churning in the dim lights under the bridge. We looked closer and saw thousands of bats circling under the bridge before they flew out. It was amazing to see so many! I thought my eyes were playing tricks at first, adjusting to the dim lights or something. But no, there were thousands and thousands of bats churning under the bridge. And they didn’t run into each other! Incredible!

It was a great experience. I’ve put the links above so you can read about the types of bats they are and plan a trip to see them if you’re ever this way. If you are, definitely make a trip to see them!

Here’s a little video I made of our visit




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