When millions of Mexican free-tailed bats swirl out from Bracken Bat Cave on a summer evening, their fluttering wings spread an audible whisper over the Texas Hill Country. Coachwhip snakes attack the emerging bats at the cave’s rocky entrance, while hawks and owls dive into the immense columns of that ribbon across the twilight sky. After their hours-long emergence, the freetails spend the night hunting insects, including many that prey on crops. By the time they return at dawn, these bats will have eaten some 200 tons of insect pests.
The bats’ emergence from Bracken Cave is an unforgettable spectacle, and members of Bat Conservation International enjoy an exclusive opportunity to witness it.
BCI owns and protects this invaluable cave and 696 surrounding acres that are increasingly surrounded by suburban San Antonio as a vital refuge for the great maternity colony of Mexican freetails that use it each summer to give birth and raise young. This is the largest community of mammals in the world. Until appropriate public-viewing facilities can be funded and built, visitation must be strictly limited. BCI members are invited to watch the emergence on specially designated nights.
Reservations for the 2009 Bracken Member Nights are now being accepted. Space is extremely limited, so please register early. We’ll send directions and additional information with your confirmation. (Please limit your party to four people. Neither pets nor alcoholic beverages are allowed at Bracken Cave.)
The schedule for 2009: April 4 (Saturday), April 8 (Wednesday), May 30 (Saturday), June 27 (Saturday), July 8 (Wednesday), July 18 (Saturday), July 22 (Wednesday), August 1 (Saturday), August 8 (Saturday), August 12 (Wednesday), August 28 (Friday), September 2 (Wednesday).