• Published 4th Jan 2013
  • 20,538 Views, 436 Comments

Twilight's Bird Feeder - Hyzaku

Twilight gets a bird feeder in the hopes of studying local birds up close. What she gets instead is a day full of frustration as the bird feeder mysteriously empties whenever she looks away.

  • ...

Twilight Sparkle's First Attempt at Ornithology

Twilight Sparkle. It was a name that evoked many varied descriptions. Studious, lavender, unicorn, bibliophile, researcher, magical, student, chemist, friend, single, etc. More importantly, at this very moment, she was concerned with the newest descriptive title that she had set her sights on; ornithologist.

Should one have asked “Why birds?”, Twilight would have replied at length about her newfound fascination with the interesting habit of the world’s cultures to ascribe various traits, be they mental or mystical, to specific species of birds. Owls, for example, are often attributed as beings of wisdom. In some areas the Anhinga is said to be capable of showing how delve into the depths of yourself and teaching how to chase your dreams and ambitions.

As noble an academic cause as studying the cultural influences of birds might be, the truth of the matter is that Twilight had actually just been unable to say no to Fluttershy.

“And did you know that, according Zecora’s elders, Bluebirds are supposedly a physical embodiment of both internal and external happiness?” Twilight’s expression brightened as the Bluebird that was perched on Fluttershy’s head chirped in agreement with her statement.

“Oh, that is fascinating, Twilight.” Fluttershy smiled pleasantly. “I didn’t realize you were so interested in birds. Have you ever thought of trying to study them up close instead of just looking at them in books?”

The unicorn’s expression fell as the realization struck. “You know, I never did think about that.”

Fluttershy’s eyes widened with excitement. “Oh, well I know the perfect way to get started.” She suddenly darted off upstairs. Twilight was certain that she heard the sounds of a pony rummaging through a closet full of, most likely unorganized, stuff. A few awkward moments passed before the pegasus returned to her guest.

Fluttershy placed her newest acquisitions on the the table with a visible amount of pride. Twilight courteously examined the items put before her. One was a simple plastic tube. It was mostly clear, the fully transparent sort, save for the red end-caps and the several small portals; each accentuated with a small peg. The tube was roughly as long as one of her legs and had a diameter approximately equal to the radius of her hoof. A tiny smirk crept onto her lips as she silently praised herself for the clever use of geometric description.

The second item was, sadly, less conducive for clever geometric adaptation. It was, quite plainly, a simple magazine. Still, the disappointingly diminutive aggregation of parallel surfaces made her friend’s intentions exceedingly clear. Twilight tore her gaze from the presented items and leveled it at the smiling pegasus. “You want me to set up a bird feeder?”

Indeed. Fluttershy had quite forcefully insisted that the easiest way to attract some birds for closer study was to provide them a service; specifically the offer of free food. After instructing Twilight to place the feeder near an accessible window and a very brief explanation of how to use the order form in the back of the bird-seed magazine to order food, she had sent Twilight on her way.

Well, except for that one last thing she had mentioned.

“Um, Twilight. You might want to order a pegasus shield when you buy your seed.”

Twilight was still confused by that statement. Unfortunately, every attempt she had made to inquire about why she would need whatever a “pegasus shield” was, only returned a series of small squeaks and incoherent mumbling from the shy pegasus. It was very strange. Twilight was certain that she had done nothing to embarrass Fluttershy. Well, nothing that she hadn’t already catalogued.

Be that as it may, she still had to go about the task of ordering some bird-seed. As interested as Fluttershy had been about her cultural studies of birds, Twilight had no doubt that her friend would soon be inquiring about what she had learned by studying the birds attracted by her newly-gifted bird feeder. Just as there had been no polite way to refuse the gift, there was simply no way to avoid at least attempting to study some birds with the thing. Few things were as awkward as having a friend discover that their gift was going unused.

Twilight paged through the bird supplies magazine’s seed section for the forty-second time; yes, she was keeping count. Having seen no particular information in any of the seed descriptions about what types of birds each seed would attract, she ultimately had come to the conclusion that the editor of said magazine needed to be fired. Even her few cursory glances at other product description had left the studious unicorn unable to glean any useful information about anything that was being sold.

Eventually her frustration with the informationless publication reached its limit. Twilight picked out what she assumed to be some sort of high-quality seed, at least based on the nearly exorbitant price, and filled out her order form. If this was worth spending a few bits on, then spending more than a few was bound to produce worthwhile results. Or so she hoped. At the very least, since this was tangentially related to keeping Fluttershy happy, and thus somewhat related to her currently assigned studies, she could write the expense off under the miscellaneous category in her Friendship Studies research grant’s monthly expense report.

Speaking of that, Twilight remembered that she still needed to thank Rarity for showing her just how many things can be covered by that lovely little expense category. She made a mental note to bring Rarity in as her financial advisor should she ever find herself serving in a bureaucratic position in Celestia’s royal court.

She took the completed order form, sealing it in an envelope along with the payment-slip, and trotted outside to place it into her mailbox.

It had taken a little over a week for the ordered seed to arrive. Minor complications with the company being unfamiliar with extracting payment from a government agency slowed the process considerably. Thankfully, a simple letter from Twilight was all that was necessary to grease the wheels of that transaction.

In the end, the delay had actually proven to be surprisingly beneficial. Twilight had made the near-mistake of ordering the seed before having located a suitable place to hang the feeder. The additional time had granted her her ample opportunity to not only locate the perfect branch, but also to install a proper observatory portal, a.k.a. window, next to it.

Sure there were numerous windows already stationed near branches around the library, but none of them quite managed to satisfy Twilight’s criteria. Either the observatory portal was directly facing the morning sun, directly facing the evening sun, lacked a suitably sturdy branch, lacked any branches at a suitable height, or was simply blocked off by a table that she refused to relocate. It may sound silly, but a lot of care went into Twilight’s choice placement of her tables. Each one was precisely placed next to a window that, with all variables accounted for, prevented the sun’s glare from interfering with her work at said table. Admittedly, she also just didn’t feel like moving the tables away from the walls.

All that aside, her newly fashioned avian study station was perfectly equipped for extended study periods. It allowed her easy access to the chosen branch, and by extension the feeder. There was a writing platform, complete with its own stock of parchment, quills, and ink, a comfy pillow so she didn’t have to sit on the bare floor, and a setting for a candle or lamp for night time observing should the chance present itself. Her favorite part of the whole design, however, was the new sliding glass panel design she had integrated. Instead of letting the observatory portal’s pane of glass swing open, she could simply slide it open or closed with her magic.

With everything in place, Twilight filled the feeder and placed it carefully on the specified branch. She took her place by the observatory portal and settled in.

The first few minutes passed by quickly as Twilight’s anticipation ran high. She watched intently with the same familiar type of focus she would place on a particularly good book. When half an hour had passed with nothing interesting happening, her resolution began to waver.

Twilight had made a particularly fatal mistake with her window placement that she was only just beginning to notice after her third hour of increasingly listless observation. She had managed to place it in a location that forbade her from observing anything of potential interest other than her bird feeder. There were no streets within view, no open areas where ponies might hang out or play, just the side of a neighbor’s house. Granted, that particular wall had a window, but it seemed that it always had the curtain drawn shut.

Twilight knew she was in trouble when she caught herself contemplating why she had lived in her current residence for over two years and had somehow managed to still have no idea who lived in the house next door. She had no choice but to admit that her current attempt at observation was a failure. With a dejected sigh and a shake of her head, Twilight stretched a bit before standing up.

A quick moment’s thought convinced her that it would likely be a good idea to satisfy her curiosity about her next door neighbor. After all, she had nothing else planned.

Twilight returned home after successfully meeting her neighbor. It was a rather embarrassing affair at first. Something about “Hi, I’ve been living next door for two years but never bothered to say hello.” not being a great way to start a conversation. Twilight made a mental note to ask Pinkie Pie about good ways to introduce herself to new ponies. She paused mid-step and promptly scratched out that note. She could think of much more productive ways to spend twelve hours.

She swiftly resumed her gait as the thought struck that she might as well check on her bird feeder. With a slightly renewed hope that her time away from watching the pot, so to speak, had given the local birds the opportunity to find the newly placed feeder and inform their friends, she made her way to her avian observatory.

What she found upon her arrival was quite a surprise. Not a single bird. Everything was still there, just the way she left it...

Twilight blinked a few times, just incase she might be hallucinating. Despite her honest hope that such was the case, she wasn’t. There was no mistaking it, the feeder was empty. Not the kind of ‘empty’ where a few seeds were still stuck inside, but actually completely empty.

She felt a small twitch in the corner of her eye. Twilight checked the time on a nearby clock only to discover that her meet-and-greet venture had taken her less than fifteen minutes. Somehow, in that short span of time, the local birds had managed to ransack her new feeder for the entirety of its contents.

It was at that very moment that she glimpsed the silver lining. Obviously, she had bought the right seed. And not just a bit of it, she had purchase twenty pounds of the stuff; mostly because the company she ordered from only sold in bulk. Indeed, if the seed she had acquired was this popular, surely she could simply fill the feeder back up and wait a few minutes for the birds to return for seconds.

A smile overtook her once gloomy expression as her body flowed with renewed vigor and excitement. Had there been any observers, they would have noticed the rather large spring in her gait. But since Spike was off at Rarity’s for the day, the was nopony around to giggle silently at Twilight’s filly-like exuberance.

She set to the task, refilling the feeder and placing it back on its branch. With a ready quill, she took her spot on the soft, fluffy pillow by the observatory portal. Her eyes eagerly scanned the visible area in hopes of catching a glimpse of a hungry bird. Twilight just had a good feeling that it was going to be an excellent day for study and observation.

It turned out that Twilight’s intuition was a liar.

Several atrociously boring hours passed by without a single bird stopping by. Twilight had long since given up hope of spotting a bird. Instead she had turned to a piece of literature in the hope that she might better be capable of identifying one of the non-existent avians that refused to partake of her goodwill.

With a frustrated groan she slammed the book closed, casting an angry glance at the undisturbed feeder. The tube of plastic glared back, taunting her with its fullness. Suddenly, a growl from her stomach reminded the unicorn that it was time for lunch. Once more she stretched away the stiffness that had accrued from her long session of sitting before making her way downstairs to the kitchen.

Upon her arrival, Twilight distinctly remembered that Spike, in his hurry to help Rarity, had neglected to make breakfast. That Twilight had been distracted with the delivery of her birdseed had resulted in her skipping her morning meal entirely. She definitely planned to make up for it. Even better that Spike wasn’t around to question her decision to gorge herself. Yes, Twilight was being a bad example. She often told Spike not to eat too much. But without him around to tease her, she could confidently eat her fill. Smugly, Twilight made herself a massive meal.

With her two daffodil and daisy sandwiches in tow, she made her way back to her fruitless observatory only to find the second shock of the day. It was empty, again.

Her eye twitched, again.

Suddenly, before she could even scream in frustration, Rainbow Dash appeared. The pegasus spotted her. Rainbow’s eyes darted to her gluttonous plate of sandwiches, then to the feeder, and finally back to Twilight.

“Hey, Twilight.” Rainbow casually remarked. “Your snack-tube thing is empty.”

It took longer than she cared to admit for Twilight to comprehend her friend’s comment. “Oh, the feeder. Yeah, that’s twice today it’s been empty.” She wasn’t certain, but she figured it was a safe assumption that her tone was more that a bit off-putting, given how the pegasus reacted.

Rainbow’s eyes shifted again. “You don’t say...”

Twilight lowered her head and sighed. She looked back up with a fresh smile. “I’m sorry, Rainbow. I’m just a bit frustrated right now.” she replied, making certain to use her normal tone. “You see, I got the feeder and set this little observing station up in the hope that I could study some of the local birds up close. Specifically, I want to try studying them when they are away from Fluttershy. For some reason, they all seem to act differently when she is around, which makes observational study quite difficult.”

“Wait,” Rainbow furrowed her brows, “you set this up for birds?”


“Then why don’t you have a pegasus shield on it?”

Twilight gave the pegasus an incredulous look. “Why, exactly, would I need one of those?”

Rainbow rolled her eyes. “Well, duh. Birds near civilized areas won’t go near a snack-tube without a pegasus shield on it.”

“That...” Twilight paused momentarily as her brain refused to process the apparent leap in logic. “What?”

Rainbow shook her head in disbelief. “Come on, Twilight. I know you’re smarter than this.” She hovered over to the confused unicorn and placed a hoof on her shoulder. “I know telling jokes is fun and all, but maybe you should get some lessons from Pinkie before you go around embarrassing yourself like this.” Rainbow glanced back at the feeder. “Also, I’m pretty hungry. Are you gonna...” She motioned towards the feeder with her head.

Twilight’s eyes widened. In her hungry and confused state, managed to completely misinterpret the direction of Rainbow’s nods. She might be a good friend, but as frustrated and hungry as she was, there was no way she was sharing her sandwiches. “Sorry, I made these for me.” She promptly made a show of devouring her gluttonous meal in mere seconds.

Rainbow shied away from the suddenly gluttonous unicorn. “Uh, right... I think I’ll come back in a bit after you fill it up.” The swift pegasus lived up to her name and made a hasty escape.

Twilight groaned, her frustration was somehow now mixed with her confusion. She filled the feeder once more, though she notably lacked the enthusiasm that was present the first two times she had completed the task. She watched the filled container hang from the branch for a few seconds before taking her crumb-filled plate back down to the kitchen. After rinsing the plate off and placing it in the ‘to wash’ pile, Twilight made her way back to her newly-dubbed Observatory of Endless Frustration.

Upon her arrival, her eye twitched.

It was time to visit Fluttershy.

“And that’s why I’m here. Please tell me you can help.” Twilight pleaded, her hooves resting on her friend’s shoulders.

“Um, okay. M-maybe I can come over and see what’s going on.” The hooves on her shoulders swiftly wrapped around her neck as Twilight drew her into a hug that quite reminded her of the first time she agreed to go to one of Pinkie’s parties. A constant stream of “thank you, thank you, thank you.” filled her ears. It was actually a more pleasant response than she had expected. At least Twilight wasn’t hopping around with her while doing this.

It had become such a frequent occurrence that Twilight didn’t even notice her eye twitch when she looked at the empty feeder.

Fluttershy glanced at the empty feeder for but a moment. “Oh, that’s your problem. You don’t have a pegasus shield.” she answered matter-of-factly. “You see, if you don’t have a pegasus shield, then all the birds will just assume the feeder isn’t for them.”


Fluttershy ignored the sudden outburst and calmly opened the bag of seed. “Oh, my...” she gasped slightly. The meek pegasus’s eyes widened at the sight of the seeds. Without thinking, she pushed her nose in closer and took a deep breath. Her wings fidgeted briefly before popping open as the true depth of the smell overtook her. “Oh... my...”

Fluttershy swallowed once and shakily pulled her head away from the seeds. “T-Twilight, you, um, you were using... this?”

Twilight arched a brow in confusion at her friend’s behavior. “Um, yes. Is that a problem?”

Fluttershy leveled the most serious gaze Twilight had ever seen at her. “Twilight, this is a very special type of seed grown specifically for pegasi. I-it is an absolute delicacy for us. It is quite possibly the single tastiest thing a pegasus can eat.”

“Then how come I’ve never seen a pegasus eat that stuff before? How come I’ve never even heard of this?”

“W-well, the p-princess put a law into place a long time ago that forbade ponies from selling these seeds to pegasi. It...” Fluttershy hesitated, “It got so bad at one point, before that law, that pegasi were eating these seeds to the exclusion of everything else. The drastic demand shift nearly ruined the food industry in Equestria.”

Twilight shook the dumbfounded expression from her face. “Again, how have I never heard of this?”

Fluttershy’s head shifted, hiding some of her face behind her mane. “I-I don’t know, all pegasi learn about it so that we know about these seeds and their danger if we aren’t careful around them.”

“Okay, whatever. I can ask the princess about it later. Can you at least tell me why something so potentially dangerous is even being sold at all? And for an entirely unrelated matter, what good is a pegasus shield?” Twilight’s desire for actual answers was growing rapidly.

Fluttershy’s cheeks slowly reddened as she answered. “Oh, that’s because it’s still a used as a romantic gift. Since only non-pegasi can purchase it, it’s often considered a very... intimate gift for a non-pegasus to give their, um, very-special-somepony. Well, if that somepony is a pegasus, of course.” The slightly flustered pegasus readjusted her posture as her embarrassment vanished. “And a pegasus shield is a magical device that reacts to our innate pegasus magic and prevents us from getting at the seed in a snack-tube... I mean bird feeder.” She fidgeted slightly. “We, um, really like the taste of seeds.”

Finally, a sensible answer. “Well, that makes-”

Surprisingly, the blushing pegasus interrupted Twilight. “Also, those seeds are a mild aphrodisiac to pegasi.” Twilight’s mouth remained agape for an undetermined amount of time leaving both ponies desperately hoping that something would break the sudden, awkward silence.

At that very moment, Rainbow Dash flew into the room. “Hey, Twi, you gonna refill that snack-tube?” Twilight immediately noticed her newly-arrived friend’s wings twitching. “Also, are you doing anything tonight?”

Twilight’s horn lit up as she encased the now dubiously-dubbed Love Seed... She paused mid-stride as she inwardly cringed at the name. She would have to come up with something less prone to innuendo later. She resumed her trot as she exited the room. “That’s it, I’m getting a pegasus shield...” She glanced back towards Rainbow Dash who responded with a decidedly saucy waggle of her brows, “now.”

A sudden flash of light danced against Twilight’s closed eyelids. Sleepily, she forced one open to see what was going on. It was unusual, but she had, at least once, received a royal missive in the dead of night. Apparently Luna could use Spike’s Delivery Service.

What the drowsy unicorn was not expecting was the sight of the royal sisters in her bedroom. After a brief moment of shock, reality set in, followed by panic. Twilight scrambled about in a manner that her present company found rather adorable. The younger sibling giggled inaudibly to herself at the sight.

“Princess Celestia! Princess Luna!” Twilight exclaimed. Spike rolled over in his basket, mumbling something about being noisy before returning to the realm of dreams.

“Twilight Sparkle, my most faithful student. I trust you are well?” Celestia asked, her warm tone washed over the tired unicorn, putting her at ease.

“For the most part.” Twilight replied, punctuating her reply with a yawn. “Please tell me there’s not some kind of catastrophe threatening to destroy the world. I’m too tired to deal with another potential apocalypse right now.”

The serene smile of her mentor brought a wave of relief. “Rest easy, for there are no world-ending disasters this night, Twilight Sparkle.” Luna answered. “We have simply come to ask thee a favor.”

Before Twilight could respond, Celestia’s horn lit up. Surrounded in the golden glow of the sun’s magic, Twilight’s bird feeder was placed gently on her bed. Suddenly, Twilight was overwhelmed by an indescribable emotion. Was it more confusion?

Celestia spoke up. “Could you please take off this pegasus shield? It’s keeping us from getting to the delectable seeds you filled it with.”

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