September is the time of year when thousands of hummingbirds make their way south for the winter. This section of the Gulf Coast seems to be right on their migratory path. The 29th annual Hummerbird Celebration that was scheduled for Sept. 15-17 was canceled as the Fulton-Rockport area is recovering from Hurricane Harvey. The festival provides education about the visitors as well as an opportunity to see them close up; many people put up dozens of feeders up and open their yards to the public. This year residents and businesses are busy making repairs and trying to get back to normal so a festival in the midst of chaos was just not possible.
A few days after Harvey left I saw my first hummingbird in the back yard and got out my three feeders and mixed some nectar for them. I was sure there would not be a Hummerbird Celebration this year and worried about these tiny jewels that normally feast on flowers and feeders in the area. Even in my neighborhood we were still dealing with downed fences, repairs and downed trees. But the birds were not forgotten.
As they began their annual descent upon the Fulton-Rockport area volunteers started to help and donations came in for them as well as those affected by the storm. Wild Bird Unlimited stores collected donations and sent feeder kits complete with poles for hanging. Winter Texans sent money. The crew from the King Ranch’s nature- tour brought 100 Best-1 Feeders made in Poteet , Texas. Outdoor writer for the Corpus Christi Caller-Times David Sikes wrote:
“The ranch’s nature staff decided not to burden Rockport residents with DIY hummingbird kits, white they were in the throes of the storm. So the King Ranch crew began filling and putting out feeders themselves at six Aransas Pathways nature sites.
Aransas Pathways is a collection of sites in the county aimed at creating and preserving nature area and historical treasures for locals and visitors.
Attached to the feeders is a laminated note, explaining how folks can adopt a feeder. This would involve keeping the feeders filled and clean. Within a week or so seven had been adopted.”
Some locals have put up feeders amid the debris just to make it more normal and help restore life to the community. Most of the flowering plants and shrubs that the hummers feed on were torn apart by Harvey’s winds. The mayor of Rockport and local companies have encouraged aid for the hungry travelers. In the fall they come south and cross the Gulf of Mexico to Mexico and Central America; in spring they make the return trip north. I will keep my feeders up until they are gone. Usually the last ones move on by the end of October but I always leave one up for the stragglers. When spring comes I will welcome them back! Right now they are keeping me busy refilling them at least twice a day.
RECIPE FOR ARTIFICIAL NECTAR (SYRUP)
1. Use 1 part sugar to 4 parts water.
2. Boil the water 1-2 minutes. Stir in the sugar while the water is still hot. Let cool before filling the feeder.
Store unused syrup in refrigerator for as long as 2 weeks.
PHOTOS BY HUSBAND