The Hummingbird Feeder - By Brian Law

She sat alone in the sunroom knitting socks for her grandson, a smile on her face. Classical music was playing in the background and as she watched her gardener working in the nearby garden she thought, 'it was at moments such as this when everything seemed just perfect'. 

There was a time not too long ago, however, that things looked gloomy. Her gardener, Carlos, had revealed that he was seeing very few bees and even fewer butterflies than the previous Spring as he prepared the garden for the new season. And no hummingbirds or other birds, either. He worried that in his forty years of working gardens in the area this had never happened and that the gardens would certainly suffer. 

She, too, had seen the changes and had been concerned. But recently all had changed, and rapidly, too. The bees were now plentiful, the butterflies were abundant, and her bird feeders were as popular as ever. In fact, things had not just gone back to normal! Her garden was astonishingly alive with a huge assortment of flying life! 'Maybe', she mused, 'the changing climate was not as bad as everybody was expecting. Maybe the government was doing something! Maybe they had a plan!' 

Carlos tapped on the sunroom’s window and motioned for her to please come to the door. Putting down her knitting, she slowly rose from her chair and walked  towards her waiting gardener. 

“Yes, Carlos, what is it?” she asked. 

His hat in hand, the gardener explained that he was finished for the week, but that she needed to refill her hummingbird feeder soon. 

Thanking him, she headed for her kitchen where she kept a pitcher of sugar water for just this purpose. She was surprised, however, to be refilling the feeder so soon. She had just filled it yesterday afternoon. 'Hungry little things', she chuckled to herself, 'They’re lucky to have me doing their bidding'. 

The feeder was not far from the back door and she could readily see that it was nearly empty as she left the house. But as she got closer, she saw what the real problem was. Something had perforated the container with numerous small holes, really just pinholes. And as a result, the fluid had slowly dribbled out into a puddle on the ground. 

Puzzled, she decided to take the feeder into the house for a closer look, but before she could take hold of it, a charm of hummingbirds swarmed nearby, anxious for a feeding. She couldn’t resist their presence and decided to fill the feeder knowing that they could get their fill before the fluid drained out again through the myriad of small holes in the container. 

And sure enough, as she replaced the cap on the feeder after replenishing its contents, the little birds hungrily flitted about, some feeding while others waited. She watched for a moment, mesmerized by the intricate natural ballet they presented. But then she saw something odd, something very odd. 

The little creatures weren’t using their tongues to extract the fluid from the plastic feeding holes on the feeder. They were all just pecking at the container’s side, causing more little holes and more damage! And then they would fly away without feeding while the others would fly in and repeat the same process! 

And as she watched in amazement, one of the hummingbirds’ beaks fell off into the feeder’s tray! And that bird continued to function as if nothing had happened! 

Reacting instinctively, she reached in quickly, grabbed the ‘beak’ and moved a short distance from the feeder to take a better look at it. Putting on her reading glasses, she wiped the fluid from the object and held it up for a closer look. 

It was man-made! And even had a set of numbers imprinted on it! Looking back at the feeder, she realized as she watched the birds that they were identical, all the same size and coloring. Absolutely no variation at all! 

On a hunch, she approached a flowering plant nearby where a butterfly had perched, it’s wings drying in the sun. It didn’t take long to determine that it, too, was not natural, but instead some sort of drone! And it was pretty clear that a nearby ladybug was probably a fake, too! 

She wiped her hands on her apron, took off her glasses and walked slowly to a garden bench under a nearby tree. Sitting down, her hands in her lap, she watched her garden intently, keeping very still. After a few minutes, she sighed, got up and walked back into her house. 

Sitting down, she picked up her knitting and resumed the work she had left earlier. The click of her knitting needles was the only sound in the sunroom as she worked quickly and expertly, taking only a moment now and then to wipe a tear from her cheeks. 

End

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