Winding Down
October 12, 2016 by Rita Welch

Migration is tapering off, but Hurricane Matthew reminded us of one of the perils of fall migration.

   Photo by Alex Smith
Watch for photos of hummingbirds affected in Florida by Hurricane Matthew.

Hurricane Season
Expert bird bander Meret Wilson, who lives just north of Daytona, hunkered down and rode out the hurricane as it hit Florida. Here are her observations:

October 7 at 12:21 p.m.

"To one who lives in Florida, fall means birds passing through on the way to their wintering grounds, the southward movement of monarch butterflies — and the dread of a hurricane. All three are occurring at once today. Matthew, a deadly hurricane, is rocking right up our coastline after leaving behind more than 300 deaths in Haiti...

"From my cubbyhole in a closet behind my garage in a back bedroom I hear howling wind, dropping tree branches, thunder, and oddly, the friendly croaking of tree frogs from the yard. Our power is gone and there is no hint of daylight.

"It's going to be a long 24 hours or more as this thing passes by. Lots of cleanup will be required once anyone can go outside again. Hummingbird feeders, now empty due to the winds, will have to wait 48 hours until its once again safe to be outdoors. That's what fall can mean in Florida.

October 7 at 5:04 p.m.

"The hurricane hit around 10 a.m. with the worst lasting 3-4 hours. Went out and saw damage around the neighborhood. We are completely blocked in by huge trees over the road.

"Heavy damage to my trees, fences down. Tons of debris everywhere. My bird haven is a disaster.

"The hummingbirds are coming onto my porch to get to the feeders. There's nowhere to hang them outside right now. The hummers don't seem to mind. Four are fighting at the feeders — they just can't share. As I was rehanging an empty one, a little male SAT ON MY HAND! Also, I had to unstick a female whose beak got caught in a window screen.

"Electricity will be off several days from what I am told. Our water was turned off to keep it from getting contaminated. But nothing in Florida is like what happened to Haiti."

Maintaining Flight Feathers

Migration is hard on feathers. Watch how hummers keep them clean and properly aligned for aerodynamic flight.

Nature on PBS

Travel to Peru with Dr. Christopher Witt, an associate professor at the University of New Mexico, for the season premiere of NATURE on Oct. 12, 2016 on at 8/7central.


Report Your Sightings

Report at least once a week while hummingbirds are present during this fall migration season.

Hummingbird fall sightings
Map | List

Next Update October 19, 2016