Bat Flight Breakfast

Bat Flight Breakfast

Second Thursday in August
Carlsbad Caverns in southern New Mexico was proclaimed a national monument in 1923 not only for its geologic formations but for its teeming bat population. Carlsbad's summer colony of Mexican free-tailed bats, whose numbers vary from one hundred thousand to a million, migrates to the cave each spring. They eat, sleep, digest, communicate, mate, and raise their young while hanging upside-down. The accumulation of guano—a valuable source of fertilizer—can reach depths of up to 40 feet.
Although many visitors to the park witness the bats' spectacular outbound flight at sunset, when they leave the cave in a dense black cloud for their night's feeding in the Pecos River Valley, far fewer are there to witness their return—except those who attend the annual Bat Flight Breakfast. Started in the late 1950s by a group of park employees who wanted to encourage people to witness this natural phenomenon, the breakfast soon became an annual tradition. About 400 people arrive at the cave before sunrise on the second Thursday in August and eat sausages and scrambled eggs in their official yellow "bat breakfast hats" while they wait for the bats to return to their roosts. It is said that the bats generate an eerie sound as they rocket downward with folded wings.
When a television crew was there to film the event in 1989, the bats failed to return as expected. No one is sure how or when they got back into the cave, but 13 hours later, at sunset, they left in droves as usual.
CONTACTS:
Carlsbad Caverns National Park
3225 National Parks Hwy.
Carlsbad, NM 88220
505-785-2232; fax: 505-785-2133
www.nps.gov