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Waugh Drive Bat Colony

The Waugh Bridge Bat Colony lives in Houston year round instead of migrating further south in the winter months. Why are they a tourist attraction? Every evening at sunset, 250,000 Mexican free-tailed bats emerge from underneath the bridge as a group to feed on area insects and creating an impressive sight.

The cloud of bats is so immense that when they emerge, the Waugh Drive Bat Colony can often be seen on weather radar.

Located close to downtown in Buffalo Bayou Park, the bat colony can be seen by crowds by a variety of good vantage points. The bats prefer to emerge from the east side of the bridge, often in a whirling vortex to gain height speed and as a group to deter predators.

Visitors wanting to see the bats should show up 15-30 minutes before the official sunset time of the evening. The bats tend to emerge after sunset but as a natural event, it isn’t always predictable. When temperatures are below 50 degree or rainy, this can sometimes delay or prevent the emergence

The best way to find the bridge is to look for the American General Tower that is directly across Allen Parkway from the Waugh Bridge.

Visitors can see the emergence from the varied locations—The Waugh Bridge Bat Colony Observation Deck at Waugh Drive and Allen Parkway, from the Waugh Drive Bridge sidewalk, the northeast bayou bank at the corner of Memorial Drive and Waugh Drive, or at the Gus M. Wortham Memorial Fountain along Allen Parkway.

During the day, the bats snuggle in the crevices under the bridge. The bats are usually harmless to humans, as long people do not try to touch them when grounded.

Not only can bats be seen but also often predatory birds that feed on the emerging bats. Visitors can sometimes see hawks, falcons, and herons seeking out the bats.

Visitor Tips

Buffalo Bayou Park winds through a busy part of the city, so visitors need to be mindful of car and bike traffic on the bridges if they chose to watch the bats from the Waugh Drive bridge location.

The entire Buffalo Bayou Park has undergone a significant transformation to make this well-used park near downtown more useable by all. Bikes, boats, and jogging trails can combine with the bat observation to make for a peaceful day. Some activities in the park cost money, but the bat emergence viewing is free.

Do not try to watch the bat emergence from under the bridge. Two words: bat guano.

Interested to hear more about the bat colonies? The Houston Area Bat Team at the Observation Deck holds “Bat Chats” the first and third Fridays of every month.

Waugh Drive Bat Colony
Waugh Drive, between Memorial Drive and Allen Parkway
Houston, Texas 77002
http://www.houstontx.gov/parks/batpage.html

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