Hummingbird Relief Project in Rockport Evolves Into Humanitarian Project

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Tony Maples Photography


As you might have imagined, when Hurricane Harvey hit the Texas Gulf Coast, it impacted wildlife all over the state. One of those species that was displaced and left vulnerable were the hummingbirds, whose fall migration happened to coincide with the storm.

One of the hardest hit towns, Rockport, is known to be a stopping off point for these small birds before they make the long, arduous trek across the Gulf of Mexico. The birds fuel up on nectar from plants in the Rockport area and depend heavily on Rockport’s trees to roost in and Rockport’s citizens to spoil them a bit with feeders and dedicated hummingbird gardens. In the aftermath of the hurricane, Rockport’s landscape was all but wiped clean of many trees and most plants. Rightfully so, Rockport’s lovely citizens had “bigger fish to fry” than taking care of the migrating birds. Luckily, some other Texans stepped in to offer assistance to the people of Rockport and their beloved seasonal guests – the hummingbirds.

Hummingbird Plight Causes Social Media Storm

donated plants

Photo: Facebook/wbukerrvilletx

Wild Birds Unlimited of Kerrville “caught wind” of the plight of Rockport’s hummingbirds post-Harvey from a random Facebook post. The post, by some Rockport residents who regretfully chose to ride out the storm at home, indicated that the hummingbirds were swarming the area, desperate for the much-needed nectar or homemade hummingbird food. Rhonda Cantu, the Rockport resident who put out the initial plea, agreed to be a point person (or a “hummingbird angel”) and distribute any donated flowering plants, hummingbird feeders and sugar water as needed.

Kevin and Linda Pillow, owners of Kerrville’s Wild Birds Unlimited got in touch with The Plant Haus in Kerrville who kindly donated truckloads of plants to the cause. The Pillows loaded up all of these flowering plants, along with the feeders, poles, sugar, water, ant motes and cleaning brushes donated by Wild Birds Unlimited. Wild Birds Unlimited posted an unassuming photo on Facebook as the load hit the road to Rockport and this cause suddenly went viral on social media.

Adopt A Feeder

adopt a feeder

Photo: Facebook/aransaspathways

Shortly after the first delivery was made to Rockport, Kevin Pillow was contacted by Barbara Rapstein, a representative from The King Ranch, who had the idea to place feeders and poles around the town and make them “adoptable” to residents – only asking that they fill and care for the upkeep on the feeder. To date, roughly 420 feeders, 250 poles, 1200 pounds of sugar and 300 gallons of water have been placed by volunteers around the city of Rockport.

Kevin Pillow, owner of Wild Birds Unlimited of Kerrville says that this project, which originally was directed at only the hummingbirds in need, turned quickly into a “people project.”’ It allowed some normalcy to residents who made it through the storm and who knew the importance of hummingbirds to the Gulf Coast. “I can’t begin to say how much we’ve learned about the word, ‘community’ from the people of Rockport,” says Pillow.

Phase Two In The Works

Hummingbird pole

Photo: Facebook/aransaspathways

This project is currently on hiatus (as they’ve collected all of the donations that Rockport can currently handle) but there is a “phase two” in the works that will begin soon. To follow this “hummeritarian” project, check out the Wild Birds Unlimited–Kerrville Facebook page to see how you can continue to help these important pollinators to our ecosystem in a time of distress.