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!
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!)
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.
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.
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! :)