Did Our Hummingbirds Predict Harvey?

As you know, our cats have a catio that looks out on birdfeeders–both seed and suet feeders and, from spring through early fall, hummingbird feeders.

The hummingbirds usually depart central Texas in about mid-September, on their way to Mexico and points south for the winter–but two weeks ago we noticed an absence of hummingbirds.

Whereas usually we have two or three hummingbirds at a time battling it out for the feeders, suddenly there were none. In past years, we’ve had so many hummingbirds that we’ve even been able to spot their nests–with young–down near the creek:

We thought at first perhaps it was something specific to our feeders. Maybe a neighbor was feeding the hummingbirds and they’d chosen another feeder over ours. But then John heard someone call into a local garden show he listens to, mentioning the same thing: the hummingbirds had disappeared.

The fact that the hummingbirds had left made the approach of Hurricane Harvey seem that much scarier. I remembered something that we’d learned when writing one of our Caribbean guidebooks: before technology provided hurricane predictions, islanders once looked to the birds to know if a storm was coming. When the birds left, a big storm was approaching.

The day we returned home from the hotel after evacuating, we sat on the porch. Although it was still windy, the rain had stopped. The storm was over.

And, as quickly as they had left, the hummingbirds returned. While we sat on the porch and Lucky watched from the catio, two hummers battled for domination of the feeder. Life was back to normal.

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  1. Sandy Weinstein says:

    i missed my hummingbird this yr. first time in almost 10 yrs they have not been to my house.

    • Aww…I’ve never seen a year when we didn’t have at least three hummingbirds battling the for the feeder. We had to add a second feeder a few years ago because they just wouldn’t let each other eat!

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