How Do Hurricanes Impact Hummingbird Migration in Texas?

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Tony Maples Photography


Along with the photos all over social media of Hurricane Harvey’s devastation in Texas, there were also photos of hummingbirds having feeding frenzies at feeders all across the state. We’re approaching peak migration for hummingbirds who are heading to Mexico for the winter. There is no doubt that Hurricane Harvey blew a lot of these little hummers off track. How do these birds cope with storms during their migration?

Hunker Down and Fuel Up

Hummingbirds feeding

Photo: Facebook/HummerBird Celebration

Experts believe that most birds wait for favorable winds and weather before starting a migratory flight, so seldom strike out over water during a hurricane, but some birds may be well offshore when a storm begins. Although migrants have enough fat (fuel reserves) to make the 600-mile Gulf crossing in favorable winds, they may not have enough energy to survive if they have to fight against headwinds.

Strong Little Critters

Hummingbird in storm

Photo: Flickr/Jon.D.Anderson

There’s no doubt about it that hurricanes are hard on all birds – especially the fragile hummingbird. But scientists report that when bad weather hits, hummers hunker down as tightly as they can in the most sheltered place they can find, often in dense vegetation on the downwind side of a tree trunk. Their feet are very strong and can hold onto a twig very tightly when the wind blows.

Canceled Due to Harvey

HummerBird fest

Photo: Facebook/Hummerbird Celebration

Sadly, the Rockport, the 29th Annual Rockport “HummerBird” Celebration has been canceled for 2017 due to severe damages throughout the area and to the Rockport-Fulton High School, where the event is based. The Rockport-Fulton Chamber of Commerce and HummerBird Committee regretfully made the decision to cancel the event as Rockport-Fulton has been declared a natural disaster area. With the probability of no electricity or running water for the next 2-4 weeks, holding a successful event was deemed impossible. Clean-up alone will take months at the least.

Displaying just as much strength and tenacity as the little birds that the annual event lauds, The HummerBird Celebration will resume next year with a celebratory 30th Anniversary and plans are to make it a bigger and even better event. Stay up to date with plans for next year’s HummerBird fest on their Facebook page and visit the Rockport-Fulton Chamber of Commerce website to learn about ways to help the area.