Houston Parks and Recreation Department

Waugh Drive Bat Colony

 

Waugh Drive Bat Colony Sign

There is something amazing going on underneath the Waugh Drive Bridge near Buffalo Bayou.

About 250,000 of Houston’s best-kept secrets have been quietly residing within the crevices of Waugh Drive Bridge for a number of years.  “The Waugh Bridge Bat Colony” consists of Mexican free-tailed bats that emerge nightly to stretch their wings & feed on area insects. H.P.A.R.D. has partnered with the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, the Buffalo Bayou Partnership, & enthusiastic area volunteers to begin counting & recording the activities of the Bat Colony.

Unlike other Texas bat colonies that opt for warmer climates by migrating southward during winter months, The Waugh Bridge Bat Colony remains in Houston throughout the year.  As far as we know, this is the only bridge in Texas that has such a large colony of Mexican free-tailed bats that reside all year, even through the winter months.  The huge majority of bats at other bridges migrate to Mexico for the winter.

Bats at the Congress Avenue Bridge Bat Colony in Austin (population 1.5 million), for example, begin migrating south to Mexico in the fall months, ending the twilight emergences until the following spring.

Bats play key roles in keeping a wide variety of insect populations in balance. In the U.S., brown bats often eat mosquitoes & can catch up to 1,200 tiny insects in an hour.  Large colonies of Mexican free-tailed bats eat tons of pests weekly.

In 2006 a bat observation deck was installed for your convenience. If you would like to observe the Waugh Drive Bridge Bat Colony, the following tips will help you have a safe, fun-filled, batty viewing:

Free public parking is available at Spotts Park, located at 401 S. Heights Boulevard at Memorial Drive. The park is a short stroll across Buffalo Bayou from the observation deck along the Waugh Drive Bridge.

If you would like to volunteer & help observe & monitor the bats at Waugh Drive Bridge or other locations around Houston then become a Bat Team Member Volunteer!

Bat Links: