Waugh Bridge Bat Colony

bats-1We checked out one of Houston’s more peculiar secrets, a bat colony that inhabits the underside of a bridge over Buffalo Bayou. Getting to these bats was an adventure in itself. We knew that the bridge was at the Waugh Drive and Allen Parkway intersection, so we parked at the top of Spotts Park and down the winding trail towards the basketball court. After getting yelled at by some volleyball players, interrupting boot camp and a trudging the long walk down the Buffalo Bayou trails, we realized we took the long way there. We also learned, much to our amusement, that high heels aren’t good for slopes and uneven terrain.

We knew we had made it to our destination by the potent smell in the air and the crowd of people huddled around a street corner. Giddy with excitement, we explored a little and walked under the bridge wondering where all the bats were. This turned out to be a frightening surprise. Do you know how many bats you can fit inside a bridge crevice? If you know the answer please let us know, because it looked like a bazillion to us.

As it turned to dusk, we were surprised by what we saw. We were expecting some form of explosion of bats shooting out in all directions from the bridge while everyone ran for cover screaming “DRACULA!” In actuality, they swarm under the bridge then stream out in a steady flow for their nightly insect feast. You would think hundreds of thousand bats leaving at bat rush hour would be very chaotic, but it was surprisingly organized and fluid. Houston traffic could learn a thing or two from these bats.

Houston is known for its diverse population, and this even includes hundreds of thousands of Mexican free-tail bats. One wouldn’t expect to find a colony of bats within a huge metropolitan city, but that’s Houston for you. You think you have it figured out, then BAM! Something flies out from under a bridge and surprises you.bats-2 bats-3 bats-4 bats-5 bats-6 bats-7 bats-8

Insider’s Guide

• Bring a blanket to sit on. You watch the bats from a grassy patch on a hill next to the bridge.
• If you plan on taking pictures make sure the flash on your camera is off. It will disrupt the bats.
• The bats fly out from the southeast side of the bridge and fly around the building across the street, so you will want to be on that side of the bridge.

Waugh Drive Bridge over Buffalo Bayou, between Allen Parkway and Memorial Drive.

The bats come out at dusk. We recommend you arrive 30 mintes early to get a good spot.

Free parking available at Spotts Park or along Allen Parkway.

Family Friendly