Sayonara, Hummingbird

When we came to view our home before purchasing it, the owners had a pretty glass hummingbird feeder hanging in the tree that grows next to the pond and stretches its branches over the porch. They generously left a lot of gardening tools, even fish and bird food, but they took the hummingbird feeder with them.

There was a gap of about twelve hours between the feeder being removed and our arrival. When we walked up onto our porch that first morning to start unloading, we were greeted by a furious hummingbird. It dive bombed my head and then swooped, chirping angrily, around the empty spot. I quickly drove to the convenience store about ten minutes away, found a similar glass feeder, and hung it in exactly the same place.

The hummingbird was not placated, nor were its friends and family satisfied. Despite having fed from that identical locatio not five feet from my face on each of our visits before we took possession, they all refused to use the new feeder while I watched. All summer, I did not see them feed from it even once. They ate from the petunias hanging on the porch, from the wisteria, from the gladioli, from the bright red Crocosmia across the pond, but they never allowed me to witness them at the feeder. Gradually, as the summer passed, I noticed the nectar level dropping; slowly at first, then more quickly. I would see the tiny birds buzz past the feeder. They’d fly toward it, then swerve away. Sometimes I’d see them perching above it, even on it, never feeding — making a point of not feeding. I am positive that they watched for the car to drive away before flocking to the green glass feeder to greedily consume the red nectar.

Until today. For the past week, we’ve had a skim of ice on the ponds this morning. Today, for the first time, it was cold enough to freeze the nectar. There was an intricate frost pattern on the glass, and the red nectar was hard and slightly opaque. No more pretending to avoid the feeder; now it’s unavailable, inaccessible, frozen.

Sayonara, hummingbirds. See you next year.

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