Grackle or bat: Which makes a better Austin mascot?

Loud, iridescent birds might represent Austin better than flying mammals

Ever since a colony of Mexican free-tailed bats took up residence beneath the Congress Avenue Bridge in 1980, Austin has embraced the critter as its de facto mascot.

We’re all about bats. A huge bat sculpture spins slowly at the intersection of Congress Avenue and Barton Springs Road, hundreds of people flock to the bridge to watch bats emerge on summer nights, and we celebrate the flying mammals with a festival each August.

We got to wondering, though. Would the grackle make a better ambassador for our fair city?


Pro: Eat up to their body weight in insects in a single night, which means fewer bugs are around to bug us.

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Con: Have you smelled the guano?

Pro: Draw tourists to downtown Austin.

Con: Look like tiny, flying rats.

Pro: Save farmers hundreds of thousands of dollars annually by eating bugs that attack commercial crops.

Con: Can carry rabies.

Pro: Fly up to 60 mph with a tail wind. Impressive!

Con: Sleep all day.

Could a grackle become our city mascot? JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN (American-Statesman Staff)


Pro: Beautiful black feathers with purple, green or blue iridescence.

Con: Steal food from other birds.

Pro: Groovy mating dance during which the male tips up his head and fluffs out his feathers.

Con: Harsh, sometimes annoying song. We’re a music town. We deserve better.


Pro: Opportunistic, just like the people who live here.

Con: Congregate in large groups called plagues. Who wants a plague?

Pro: They’ll eat the last few chips on the picnic table, so you don’t have to clean up.

Con: Have you ever been hit by a bird dropping?

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