The yard of Diane Loyd and Dovie Howard was featured in the post “Rockport Prepares for Hummingbirds“ on August 12. They were ready for Rockport’s Hummer Celebration and the hummingbird migration.
Hurricane Harvey changed everything except the hummingbirds’ migration. They still arrived in the North Bay coastal area.
Diane prepared for the 2017 fall migration well in advance. “We had no native plants here nor did we have any garden”, said Diane. She said the sandy soil in the Copano Village part of Rockport did not provide the nutrients needed to grow the nectar-producing plants for the hummingbirds.
She had watched her grandparents and then her parents feeding the hummingbirds by keeping 75 feeders filled for weeks with sugar water. In 2015 she and her mother went through $200 worth of sugar satisfying the hummers. In 2016 the Loyd household expense for sugar was reduced to $100.
Diane had created a better habitat for the hummingbirds. She began by adding a cow manure mixture to her sandy soil. She added plants known to attract butterflies and have nectar-producing flowers for the hummers. She cultivated her gardens to feed hummingbirds and butterflies.
For three months, the migrating hummingbirds would have shelter in the trees and the water fountains throughout the property would allow them to stay hydrated. Potted plants could be moved to shade or sun. Her well-planned garden would provide nectar and she would continue to supplement with sugar water. That was the plan…that was the expectation.
Hurricane Harvey arrived as the migrating hummingbirds’ visit to the Coastal Bend was just beginning. Everything changed except the flocks of small birds returning to the trees, yards and gardens they visit each year.
The savage winds had stripped leaves from the trees, broken tree branches, toppled tall palms and uprooted a 500-year-old oak tree on the Copano Village property. The tiny hummingbirds had to settle for primarily bare branches of the remaining oak trees as they roosted for the night in the Loyd/Howard yard and gardens.
The flowering plants were bare of any blossoms following the winds and waterlogged from the torrential rains which came with Harvey. The hummers would need the sugar water this year if they were to survive.
The Rockport Hummer Celebration was canceled. The hosts needed to concentrate on their own personal demanding needs…clearing downed trees, covering damaged roofs with tarps, contacting insurance companies, helping family and neighbors. Their 15-hour work days did not leave time to welcome guests as they had for so many years.
But the hummingbirds did not know their celebration was not happening. They returned as they had for generations. Volunteers hung feeders throughout the Rockport area with a telephone number written on each. They hoped others would adopt a feeder and clean and fill it regularly so the tiny visitors would find the needed nourishment while they remained in the area.
Diane and Dovie hung their 75 feeders back up and began the routine of cleaning and filling them. Their 200 hummingbirds will find the sugar water while they visit the familiar yard.
The other wild birds will find bird seed and the squirrels will find their favorite sunflower seeds.
Diane and Dovie will visit the patio surrounded by their tiny guests when they take time to forget the work to be done cleaning up and repairing, as they take time to just breathe and relax.
Harvey disrupted many special events, changed many plans and destroyed much, but the hummingbirds continued their migration and residents hung their feeders and enjoyed watching the tiny visitors.