Once upon a time, there was a girl who loved hummingbirds. She would wait rather impatiently for the page on her calendar to read "September", for you see, this girl lived on the coast, and every September the Ruby-throated hummingbirds would pass through her land on their way to a tropical paradise far, far away from their nesting grounds. She would fill up her hummingbird feeders (she had three of them, actually) and watch as her birds would drink, drink, drink in anticipation of their long difficult flight over the Gulf. They only stayed about a month, but it was one beautiful month.
Then one spring day her Prince Charming took her to a faraway land in the mountains. The day she stepped out of her coach and into the cool mountain air, two Ruby-throated hummingbirds zipped past her, right above her head. The hummingbirds were welcoming her home.
She bought a hummingbird feeder from a magical place called Ace Hardware, and her Prince hung it right outside their living room window. She would wake up every morning with a cup of tea to her hummingbirds chirping and drinking and humming. They were good little hummingbirds that got along with each other fairly well, as Ruby-throats are prone to do. Well, unless there were more than one male. Then things got interesting. The males would fly around showing off and fighting for their territory of red plastic flowers. The males would always let the females have a drink though. Yes, it was a happy place. But then one day, he came. Rufous.
Rufous (or Rufus as he was known to be called) was a fierce little bird. He was brilliantly copper-colored with a fiery red throat, and he was beautiful. But I think he knew it. He didn't get along well with others. He would hardly ever sit still for the Storyteller to get any decent pictures of him, unlike the Rubies who seemed to pose on the perches for their snapshots. Rufus would chase all of the Rubies away from the feeder from his perch way up in the highest Aspen. Sometimes he would tire and finally the Rubies would swoop in and drink to their hearts' content. Sometimes the Rubies would gang up on Rufus and take back control of the feeder, but only for a little bit. Rufus always came back.
But it got crowded on that one feeder, so the Storyteller went and purchased another feeder. The Prince (who happens to be an engineer) designed and made the most magnificent two-story hummingbird feeder that had ever been seen, and then he hung it back outside the living room window for the Storyteller to see.
News spread throughout the Hummingbird Kingdom (our backyard) of this beautiful new feeder which could seat more birds. One little bird told two friends, and then they told two friends, and so on, and so on....Before long there were ten hummingbirds regularly at the feeder, day and night. Eight birds would drink and two would hover and wait (or if he was a Rufous, chase another bird away) and then have a snack. The females would all sit around on the perches and sit perfectly happy together having their dinner. (They reminded the Storyteller of her girlfriends back in Texas and their Girls' Nights Out of Italian food, red wine and cake at Carrabba's.) The Storyteller and the Prince had to refill the two-story feeder twice a day to keep the birds full, but they were rewarded with the most amazing shows and displays from those birds.
One day one of the females brought a baby with her to feed. Baby was stout with a nectar-belly and had a shorter beak, so short in fact, that Baby couldn't sit and drink from her perch. She had to fly with her face deep into the feeder's flower. Everyone always played nice when Baby came to drink. No fighting, no bullying. Everyone was on their best behavior.
And then one day, while refilling the feeder, a curious thing happened. The Prince unscrewed the red base of the feeder from the glass bottle and held it in his right hand while the Storyteller filled with nectar the glass bottle in the Prince's left hand. The birds were hungry and appeared all around. Suddenly one tried to drink from the red base in the Prince's hand! And so it was, that every time thereafter that the feeder was refilled, the hummingbirds swarmed around the window and the Storyteller and the Prince and happily fed from their hands. One day Little Princess held the base for Storyteller who was busy taking more pictures.
The birds were so happy to see anything red that one day when the Storyteller went outside on the deck with a red t-shirt on, three different hummingbirds came right over to her to investigate. And the Storyteller was very happy. Very happy indeed.
The weather outside started getting cooler, and the birds began flying away to prepare for their winter's tropical paradise vacation. The Prince moved his family to a new house. They brought their two-story feeder with them and found a nice place outside their kitchen window to hang it.
They still have hummingbirds come and see them every day, but not as often. Autumn is almost here. But every spring when the snow begins to melt and temperatures begin to warm, the feeder will be cleaned and filled up with nectar, and the Storyteller will be there at the window waiting. Always.