Nature (Published on TBNWeekly.com - Feb. 8,
Where do animals ride out the storm? A rain-soaked squirrel creeps along an awkward live
oak bough as lightning strikes all around him. Sudden flashes of purple and
chartreuse brighten the leaden sky momentarily, then carve through the thick layers
of heaven with stiletto speed into the depths of the earth
As the storm rumbles and booms, I recall my mothers voice attempting to
comfort me as a young child: Thunder is a sign that God is rearranging his
furniture. I smiled to myself thinking, Hey, I do that a lot. I just
hadnt realized it might be a blessed activity.
A weatherman points to dark red then purple cells moving slowly over Tampa Bay,
while reports of rescue workers rushing to scenes of real and false alarms flood the
airways. As the electricity intermittently shuts off and on the breaking news
flickers back and forth to a blank blue screen and the overhead light bathes the
darkened room in staccato on and off illumination.
Strange weather, Im thinking, for a day in early February. Briefly the clouds
lift. Birds curiously fill the vacant spaces between the bare branches. A nervous
chatter ensues and, just as suddenly, a crack of thunder pierces the atmosphere
causing the windows to rattle in their frames and the chattering birds to disappear
abruptly again. Where did they go, I wondered, feeling thankful for my windowed and
After an intimate binocular survey, I discovered a dampened blue jay hovering under
an awning and two wrens nonchalantly gathering seed at the feeder, otherwise no trace
of wildlife, not even the sopping wet squirrel.
So where do birds go? After surveying the intensity of this storm and remembering
the hurricanes of this summer I decided to investigate.
Type into any Internet search engine: Where do birds go in a storm? You will obtain
numerous theories on this query. Some speculations assume that birds and animals
hunker down much as we do under a thick bush or on the dry side of a tree. Many
Floridians might wonder about that thick bush over there at the edge of the garden
and definitely question the theory of a dry side of a tree. Those
situations dont appear to provide significant shelter for living beings in
Florida. I wouldnt want to be out there. Would you? Maybe there are birds in
those thick bushes, perhaps theyre huddling together right now in the pine
trees or cuddling under palm thickets, but I suppose this is one circumstance when
wildlife benefits living in close proximity to humans.
Another clap of thunder.
Breaking news shows flooding and the phone rings. Youll never believe
this! the womans voice exclaims. Theres a pair of
red-shouldered hawks in a barren tree outside my second story window. Betty
explained that during the storm the garden flooded and the hawks began swooping down
to gather drowning tidbits and floating morsels. Hmmm, so to the hawks this storm
offered up a banquet of sorts. Betty went on to explain that the storm didnt
seem to impede their activity. Obviously the feathered and furry are more amply
equipped to withstand and cope with inclement weather than we humans. Still, even the
hawks would need a place to dry out eventually.
Betty noted that the dry, downy feathers were beginning to peak out at the nape of
the one hawks neck. We can only guess as to where the hawks will spend the rest
of the afternoon, but since they are paired perhaps they will retire with full
bellies to a cozy home built high in a sheltered tree.
Other members of wildlife may not fair as well as this specialized couple. Baby
birds and bats are often victims of storms, as well as flooded dens and hollows of
the fox, rabbit, raccoon and opossums. When were faced with injured animals we
want to help, this is one time our assistance is better left to the experts.
During the next months we will be experiencing many storms. Hey, we have those green
lawns in winter, remember? But we can make preparations for the wildlife in our
gardens before hand. Providing safe havens, specifically built alternate housing, bat
and owl houses, for example, are just a few improvements.
Access to clean water, alternate, natural food sources are some other features to
consider adding to your landscape. Take into account what you can do to assist
wildlife within your surroundings before the storms arrive. Perhaps outsmarting
Mother Nature just a bit, but definitely providing a much needed port within the
storm, back to nature.
For information on what to do when wildlife is injured, refer to: Wildlife Reference
Sheet: Compiled by Robyn Graboski, L.W.R., state Wildlife Rehabilitator: www.tc.umn.edu/~devo0028/advice1.html.
Karen can be reached at MyMuddyPawsStudio@gmail.com.