After record-breaking storms and floods, human recovery is beginning. Our thoughts and prayers are with our fellow Americans in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.
In no way do we want to minimize or compare human suffering with that of birds. But, since so many people have asked us, we felt a need to address the fate of migratory birds that are now, or will soon be, passing through these migratory flyways.
Hurricanes have certainly added new challenges for millions of birds.
Major Flyway Stopover Habitats Lost Food Sources
Stopover habitats have been stripped of unknown quantities of nutritious vegetation and insects. It’s too soon to tell what long term effects of habitat destruction will be. For example, American Redstarts, Black-and-white Warblers, and Ovenbirds heading south to spend winter in Puerto Rico, may struggle more to find food and shelter in Maria’s aftermath. (We saw a female Redstart at our bird bath last week! Our backyards are just one stopover in a very long journey.)
Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, starting their long migration, are one of our biggest concerns right now. Many of you have told us that you are also seeing fewer and fewer Hummingbirds bulking up at your feeders.
Feeding Stations Donated for Hardest Hit Areas
The food situation is very serious. Hummingbirds need to double their body weight in order to endure their 24 hour flight across the Gulf. Due to loss of nectar-bearing plants, birders and feeder manufacturers are rallying to set up strategic feeding stations in the Hummingbird flyways hardest hit by the storms. We thank them!
Other rescue operations continue. Many injured birds rescued during the storms are now being cared for by wildlife rehabilitation organizations stressed with recovery efforts and limited resources.
A donation to a wildlife rescue group working in the Gulf region flyways can make a difference. We made a donation to the Wildlife Center of Texas, after our beloved Second Chance Wildlife Center made us aware of their heroic efforts.
What we can do to help Hummingbirds and other migrants
Leave your feeders up for at least two weeks after you see your last Hummingbird. Late migrants can still be passing through our area through the end of October. Even if you’re not seeing regular visitors, always keep your nectar fresh.
In our own backyard flyways that serve as B&Bs during Fall Migration, we need to take extra care to keep feeders—and especially bird baths—clean and filled for Warblers, Vireos, Thrushes, Catbirds and others who are also bulking up to prepare for their journeys.
And now, the good news!
There is good news! Keep in mind that birds are resilient and adaptive. Our backyard habitats are more important than ever and DO make a difference. And more good news?! Dark-eyed Juncos and White-throated Sparrows are arriving any day, and will stay here over winter!