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A snowy owl surveys the landscape
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You’ll have to be a night owl yourself to meet these mysterious animals of the night.

The USA enjoys nearly every landscape possible under the sun, from craggy peaks to rolling prairies, from arid deserts to tropical rain forests. However, it is at night when the landscape truly awakens and becomes something magical. Nocturnal creatures wander out of their burrows, dens and other hiding spots to explore their surroundings and find something to eat.

1. Bats

The USA is home to a wide variety of bat species. If you’d like to catch a glimpse of Mexican free-tailed bats, join the crowds on the Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin, Texas. As the sun sinks low in the horizon, a cloud of up to 1.5 million bats emerge from underneath the bridge. Renovations to the bridge in 1980 unintentionally made it the ideal bat roost, and it now harbors the largest urban bat colony in the world.

Find a spot on Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin, Texas, to see up to 1.5 million bats take flight every evening.

Find a spot on Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin, Texas, to see up to 1.5 million bats take flight every evening.
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Alan Wolf

2. Coyotes

Though you may sometimes spot them in the daytime, coyotes prefer to be out after dark. It is after nightfall that you may hear their echoing howls and yips cutting through the inky night. Coyotes are found in many environments including forests, mountains, deserts and even cities across the USA. (Keep your eyes peeled for them in National Parks like Yellowstone in Wyoming, and the Grand Canyon in Arizona.) Indigenous to North America, the coyote is a common character in Native American folklore, usually fulfilling the archetype of wily trickster. The role suits coyotes, given that they are very cunning hunters.

Spend a night camping in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, and you might hear the howl of a coyote in the distance.

Spend a night camping in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, and you might hear the howl of a coyote in the distance.
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Larry Lamsa/Flickr

3. American Red Foxes

Another common animal in Native American storytelling is the American red fox. Some tribes describe the red fox as they do the coyote — crafty and up to no good — whereas others see the animal as a noble, judicious messenger. These remarkably smart, quick-moving animals can be spotted in many areas in the eastern USA, like Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. To catch a glimpse of one, be alert and be patient. These beautiful animals shy away from crowds and noise.

The American red fox can be spotted all across the eastern USA.