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BATS Magazine

VOLUME 9, NO. 1 Spring 1991


ON THE COVER

Mexican free-tailed bats (Tadarida brasiliensis) are familiar to most people in Central Texas. Some of the largest bat populations on earth make their summer home here in several critical caves. Pregnant females in these huge maternity colonies each give birth to a single young. The evening emergences of millions of bats create some of nature's most spectacular sights, especially when young begin to fly in late July. During the night a large colony will consume many thousands of pounds of insects. Bats sometimes emerge up to three hours before sundown, forming dense columns over the hills. Hawks and owls are often seen at the same time as they cruise the skies, looking for a meal of their own among the exiting bats.

Babies learn to fly in four to five weeks and begin storing fat for their long journey south to Mexico for the winter. At speeds of up to 40 miles an hour in level flight and much more with a good tail wind, they are capable of climbing as high as 10,000 feet during the trip. Free-tails begin to leave Texas in fall, riding the winds of one of the first cold fronts in late October or early November. They return early the next spring.

Thirty-two of the United States' 42 bat species can be found in Texas, one of the reasons that Bat Conservation International made its world headquarters here. The opportunities to see bats in Texas are best in July and August, and visitors are seldom disappointed. Photo by Merlin D. Tuttle

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All articles in this issue:
ON THE COVER
A VACATIONER'S GUIDE TO BATS
BATS in South American Folklore and Ancient Art
VAMPIRES: THE REAL STORY
Poland's Unique Bat Reserve: A Resource in Trouble
WISH LIST
An Avalanche of Mail
Caught in the Crossfire

Unless otherwise noted, all images are copyright ©Merlin D. Tuttle and/or ©Bat Conservation International