CARLSBAD — The screen slowly comes to light as the stars of the show scurry about their business.
As the minutes pass, the main attraction starts putting on a glasses-free 3-D show, seemingly coming right at the nearly 200 audience members.
The sun continues its ascent into the early morning sky and the Mexican Free-tailed bats come into focus as they return to their home in the Carlsbad Caverns.
This isn’t a summer blockbuster at Galaxy 8, however.
This is real life and, based on the attentiveness of those in attendance, is no less riveting than the climax of the latest summer blockbuster.
While people can come watch the bats return on their own any day, this particular Saturday morning is a special one — the 56th annual Bat Flight Breakfast.
Park ranger, and resident bat guru, Pam Cox said that the breakfast started as a way to celebrate the bats.
“It was just for this reason, because no one would come to the park early to watch the bats return,” she said. “So, some of the rangers got together and said, ‘Why don’t we invite the public?’
“People can come early in the morning on their own, but we wanted to make it kind of a celebration.”
When most people think of the bats of the Carlsbad Caverns, they think of when the bats leave the cave to go hunting. The return flight offers something that Jeff Gordon would appreciate: speed.
“It is faster than when they leave,” said Cox, who has been at Carlsbad for more than two years. “When they are leaving, they are gaining that altitude, plus they are feeding along the way. They aren’t in a huge hurry to get wherever if there is food right there.
“(On the way back), they need to build up the speed to be able to put on the brakes.”
For more information on this and other events put on by the Carlsbad Caverns, call 785-2232.