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Harvey, Irma, Jose, and Lee

Hurricane Irma did some major redecorating in my backyard.  I can’t say I agree with her mulching technique (scattered all over the lawn).  She stripped the leaves off most of my plants.  Thankfully she left the oak tree standing.  Irma also left us with a few tiny surprises: Ruby-throated Hummingbirds.  They have been such a joy to watch in the backyard each evening as they zip around, nectaring at the firebushes and chattering with each other as they fight for the best blooms.

If you read my latest posts, you already met the little female hummer.  A day or two after the storm, we named her Irma.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Ruby-throated Hummingbird “Irma”

Imagine our delight when we realized that Irma had a friend.  A gorgeous male with his flashing red gorget.  He has a tendency to hog a plant and sit on it, so we continued the hurricane naming trend and called him Harvey.  Harvey doesn’t like to have his picture taken and only let me grab a quick snapshot.

Harvey the Elusive Hummer

“Harvey” the Elusive Hummer

Then one afternoon we looked out and saw not two, but three hummingbirds nectaring simultaneously.  The third bird was a juvenile male.  His throat is just starting to turn red, and he proudly flashes his tiny spot of color.  His nectaring tends to be erratic, especially when Harvey chases him in circles.  So after watching several flight loops, we named him…you guessed it…Jose.

Jose's Flash of Red

Jose’s Flash of Red

Jose is very camera-happy.  He didn’t mind a bit when I introduced him to the Beast.  In fact, he’ll hover over my head when I am outside working.  The whir of his tiny wings overhead is pretty neat.

Drinking from the Firebush

Drinking from the Firebush

Jose is by far our most active hummer.  After photographing him on several occasions, though, I realized that I had two young males.  The first has more of a bib under his chin already.  So we dubbed him Lee.

"Lee"

“Lee”

We’ve had some rainy afternoons lately, and that seems to be the best time to find the hummers.  They delight in the raindrops.

Singin' in the Rain

Singin’ in the Rain

I don’t think we’ll ever get tired of seeing these tiny creatures zip around our backyard!! :)

Breaking News!

Breaking News!  Our First of Fall Painted Bunting arrived in our yard this afternoon!

He’s about a week late this year.  He blamed the weather. :)

First of Fall Painted Bunting

Time to get out the bunting cage and stock up on millet!

The Survivors

It’s been a week since Hurricane Irma charted a course across Florida, and I am still marveling at Nature’s resiliency. While Rich and I passed a long sleepless night during the heaviest winds, at least we had a sturdy house over our heads. I worried about the denizens of our backyard, the birds and rabbits and critters who were exposed to the cruel blasts of air. Thankfully, they must have found a safe place to pass the storm, for they showed up on Monday looking for bird seed like usual!

Mourning Dove

Mourning Dove

Nature can be pretty amazing. Our house is missing shingles, and our neighbor’s fence is down, but our hedges provided shelter from the harsh winds and protected our bird-friendly backyard. The American Beautyberry bush, a fall favorite of mockingbirds and cardinals, is missing leaves but still has plenty of berries to feed hungry birds. (Assuming that the mockingbirds choose to share, that is!)

American Beautyberry Bush

American Beautyberry Bush

Most flower beds and other nectar plants are pretty well deprived of leaves and flowers, which isn’t a great story if you are a hummingbird that depends on nectar to survive. Protected by our hedge, my hummingbird bushes survived and are still covered in blooms.

Firebush "Hummingbird bush"

Firebush “Hummingbird bush”

Probably because of our two firebushes, we’ve had multiple hummingbirds visiting the yard this week. Both males and females come in regularly for a drink. I put out bird feeders as soon as the winds died down on Monday, but the hummers fly right past the feeders and go straight for the natural flowers. I hope they will stick around even as the rest of their habitat recovers.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Most local bird-watching places are closed after Irma. Parts of the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive are under water. So are parts of the Circle B Bar Reserve.  The turtle nests that Rich and I have been watching all summer are sadly destroyed by the high waves and storm surge.  It’s going to take a while for the area to recover and for regular bird-watching blog posts to resume.  But my first Painted Buntings are due to show up in the yard any day now, and the temperatures are starting to drop (a tiny bit), so fall backyard birding is definitely on the schedule! :)