© Photo by J Scott Altenbach, University of New Mexico
Eckert James River Bat Cave Preserve
16.5 miles from Mason, TX near State Highway 290
This maternity colony of 4 to 6 million Mexican free-tailed bats is one of the largest bat nurseries in the country.Most of the female bats that inhabit the site from May through September are pregnant when they arrive and give birth to a single pup in June or July. The young bats are able to fly at about five weeks of age, but remain with their mothers until they migrate to Mexico in October.
At dinnertime (about an hour or two before sunset), a stream of bats gradually emerge from the mouth of the cave, flying in a large circle near the ground, then spiraling upward several hundred feet in a dark, funneling, bat ‘tornado’ before breaking off and venturing across the countryside in search of food.
Note that the cave is open to the public and benches are provided near the cave entrance which is approximately 500 yards from the parking area and is only accessible by a trail leading over a slight incline.