SAN FRANCISCO DE SALES, Colombia (AP) — These are quiet times for Leonor Pardo's Enchanted Garden.
She still wakes up each day a little before the sun rises to prepare for the arrival of hundreds of hummingbirds — but without the visitors who in the past have helped her cover the costs of feeding them due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
What began as a bird-feeding fountain in her garden 35 years ago has become a tourist attraction on the edges of San Francisco de Sales, a town about 30 miles (50 kilometers) north of Colombia's capital, Bogota. She opened it to visitors in 2006.
In normal times, they pay about $3 to enter for a glimpse of the birds, who drink both from local flowers and from an array of feeders filled with sugar water. Some 26 species have been identified at the garden, and ornithologists say the Cundinamarca region holds at least 30 species in all.
The Enchanted Garden closed its doors in March, when the Colombian government ordered a mandatory quarantine to fight the pandemic. Although the measure was relaxed as of September, Pardo, 63, decided not to reopen in order to protect her 87-year-old mother, who shares the house where the garden is located.
Pardo said it costs about $1,000 a month for upkeep and to keep the birds fed; they eat about 1,500 pounds of sugar a month. She said she's taken out a loan and is selling paella, empanadas and rice on delivery from her home.
The garden is “a project of love; it is not based on money," she said.