Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Hurricane Irene and Unexpected Visitors

Photo by Kathleen Scott. Used with permission.

We live in southeastern Virginia, so we’d been tracking the path of Hurricane Irene for days before it arrived on Saturday, August 27th. On Friday my husband Lee moved the table, chairs and charcoal grill off the deck and into the garage.

Everything was put away…except the hummingbird feeder. And that’s because we’ve had three active visitors from dawn to dusk the past few weeks. Maybe even later, for all we know. We can’t see what happens after dark.

We just knew these little Ruby-throated Hummingbirds depended on us to supply them with sweet nectar, and we didn’t want to let them down.

You see, to stay alive, hummingbirds must consume more than their weight in food each day. That means they eat quite often because they can only take in small amounts at any given time. In fact, their survival depends on eating frequently more than any other animal. They continually face the danger of starving.

So we were going to wait and take the feeder down Saturday, after they’d had their early morning feeding. We figured they’d hunker down somewhere once the rain and wind started in earnest.

But we were in for a surprise.

The hummingbirds arrived early, as expected. They were already at the feeder when we looked out the breakfast nook windows at 6:00am. But their visits didn’t stop even when the rain and wind arrived. We decided to leave the feeder up, just to make sure they had a source of food in case they ventured out during the storm. Lee went out and tied the feeder to the pole it was hanging from, to make sure it didn’t blow off.

Torrents of rain came down at times, with wind gusting to 60 mph. We stared in amazement as the hummingbirds continued coming to the feeder throughout the entire day.

Their tenacity in the face of severe weather was truly inspiring.

Such tiny creatures.

Such a huge adversary.

And yet, they were never deterred. They simply ignored the constant assault. In fact, they seemed oblivious to it!

This display of courage and perseverance got me to thinking…

As humans, we allow ourselves to get discouraged too easily. When we face a difficult situation, instead of staring it in the face and moving forward anyway, we often back off or even give up. If someone pushes back against our ideas or actions, we retreat.

What would happen if we adopted the tiny hummingbird’s attitude?

Be tough. Be strong. Even when you’re up against a fierce opponent. Be willing to look adversity in the face and do the hard things anyway.

If you adopt this approach, your confidence will grow and you’ll be ready to handle even greater challenges when Mother Nature or the people in your life throw the unexpected your way.

A footnote…

I didn’t have the proper equipment to film our three visitors that day, but this YouTube video shows the same kind of activity that we observed. I hope you’ll be inspired to have the same energy and tenacity these Hummingbirds display during a thunderstorm.


  1. Meredith, what a sweet story. You did exactly the right thing. The birds need energy more during stress and will feed nonstop in daylight hours unless they're in torpor. They don't feed at night.

    So glad your birds had your help!

  2. Kathleen, thanks for your contribution with your wonderful photo and additional insights about the behavior of these birds!

  3. What a wonderful thing you and your husband did to keep helping the little birds during such a fierce storm, Meredith. Really enjoyed reading your post.

  4. Wonderful story!
    The fact that these creatures of God are stable and well prepared to face adversity makes you think that what is given to them as birds they highly honor it, while in contrast the humans are not appreciative of what is given to them, are too confused and too weak in face of adversity.
    Thank you for sharing your story with us.
    A-Balia- Twitter account

  5. Julia and A-Balia,thank you so much for taking time to comment and share your positive feedback!


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