Here in Austin, we’re passionate about many things: our barbecue, our outdoor spaces, our breakfast tacos and, of course, keeping it weird. That said, it should come as no surprise that we have a special fondness for one of the most misunderstood mammals on the planet: the bat.
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From March until November, we flock to the bridge where 1.5 million (yes, that’s million) Mexican free-tailed bats emerge nightly. We have a yearly festival in honor of this winged creature, complete with a costume contest. The state of Texas even recognized the Mexican free-tailed bat as the official flying mammal of Texas in 1995.
What’s all the fuss about? Here are some interesting facts about bats:
- Each night when they emerge from under the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge, Austin bats eat from 10,000 – 20,000 pounds of insects, including agricultural pests (and mosquitoes!).
- Free-tailed bat droppings were once used to make gunpowder and are still used as a rich natural fertilizer.
- Mexican free-tailed bats can fly at speeds of up to 60 miles per hour.
- Over 500 plant species depend on bats to pollinate their flowers, including species of mango, banana, cocoa, durian, guava and agave.
- Bats play an important role in spreading seeds of trees and other plants.
- Mexican free-tailed bats can migrate up to 1,000 miles from their homes in Mexico, Central America and into South America to the southern half of the United States.
- Mother bats can recognize the sound and smell of her pup from among thousands of newborns.
- Bats may live to be 20 years old.
Now that you know why we are batty about bats, it’s high time you knew another fact: April 17 is Bat Appreciation Day! To celebrate, we’ve teamed up with Radisson Hotel & Suites Austin Downtown to create our very own Flat Bat, to be your guide to high-flying fun right here in Austin.
Cut out your very own Flat Bat, take him on adventures all over Austin, and you could win a #Batty4Austin Prize Package, courtesy of Radisson Hotel & Suites Austin Downtown!
The #Batty4Austin Prize Package includes a one-night stay at the Radisson Hotel & Suites Austin Downtown for Bat Fest, Saturday, August 22, 2015, a pair of passes to Bat Fest, and a $50 food and beverage credit for the hotel.
How to enter:
- Print Flat Bat and cut him out.
- Take Flat Bat on epic adventures all over town.
- Post photos of your fun with Flat Bat on Instagram and/or Twitter, using the hashtag #batty4Austin and tagging @radissonaustin and @freefuninaustin
- Follow Radisson Hotel & Suites Austin Downtown on Instagram and/or Twitter. They may share one of your photos!
- For each #batty4Austin photo you share from April 17 – May 3, 2015, you will receive one entry to the giveaway, for your chance to win the #Batty4Austin prize package courtesy of the Radisson, the best hotel for bat watching. The giveaway will close at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, May 3, 2015. One winner will be selected at random from all of the Twitter and Instagram entries.
We thought we’d give you a few ideas to get started. Don’t let this list limit you — we know you are a creative bunch and will have all kinds of great ideas of places to go. We can’t wait to see the places Flat Bat takes you!
Nightwing by Dale Whistler, Congress Ave. & Barton Springs Rd. Traffic Island, 300 S. Congress Ave.
This aluminum sculpture, located on a median across the street from the Austin American Statesman facility, moves with the wind and is part of the Austin Art in Public Places Program.
All About Austin, Congress Ave. & Riverside Dr.
This mural pays homage to several of the things Austin is known for: Stevie Ray Vaughan, the University of Texas and the bats (the mural is painted on the side of the car wash at the Food Mart – hence the inclusion of the store in the piece).
Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge, 100 Congress Ave.
This bridge is home to the world’s largest urban bat colony. Even during the daytime, you can visit and hear the bats as you walk along the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail. The Austin American-Statesman created a Bat Conservation Center with interpretive signs and visitors take advantage of the grassy hillside to sit and wait for the bats to emerge.
Bat-shaped bike racks at the Austin Convention Center, 500 E. Cesar Chavez
Bat-shaped bike racks were recently installed near the northwest corner of the Austin Convention Center. Genius!
Bat mosaic at the Austin Nature & Science Center by Stefanie Distefano, 2389 Stratford Dr.
The Austin Nature & Science Center has four mosaics close to the entrance. The bat mosaic is located to the right of the mosaic-lined stairway leading to the Visitor’s Pavilion. In addition, you can learn about the bats in the Naturalist Workshop and in the exhibits.
Greetings from Austin by cobracage.com, 411 W. 23rd St.
This take on the popular Greetings from Austin postcard features a prominent bat cameo near the A in Austin. The mural is located in the former parking lot of the University of Texas Co-op which is now home to a food court.
You don’t have to take Flat Bat to locations featuring bats – you can take him anywhere! Just print your Flat Bat and go. We can’t wait to see photos of your #batty4Austin adventures!