Do you hear the whippoorwill?

Last night I was outside in the front yard with the dog and looked up at the sky, which had cleared. It was dark except for starlight. The night sky was beautiful. I could see 6-25 Page 4A.inddthe big dipper. And then I heard the call of a whippoorwill coming from somewhere in the woods.

So I sat on the front porch and listened. From what I’ve read, it appears that the whippoorwill population is on the decline. I’m sorry to know that, and not just because of their beautiful call.

They’re interesting birds, as instead of rising at the crack of dawn to sing their special song, they call at night when they are active and feeding.

You can walk in the woods and almost step on a nesting whippoorwill, as they nest on the ground, often among piles of dead leaves, and won’t leave their nests unless someone walks onto it inadvertently.

They lay two eggs. They’re not spectacular in color and blend right into the nesting area, beautifully camouflaged for the purpose of survival and procreation.

And each night they give a free concert to anyone who cares to listen.

There’s an industrious wren in the tractor shed. I saw her over the weekend constructing a nest in the corner of an upended peach basket. She — I’m assuming — had found a small clump of Spanish moss that had been dumped onto the brush pile.

When the pansies were pulled out of their containers, I discarded the old coco mat liners and the moss tucked in around their feet.

But nothing ever really goes to waste, and this particular clump of moss was apparently just what the wren needed to put the finishing touches on her new home.

Last year there was another small bird nesting in the tractor shed. I’m not sure this is the same bird but I wonder if it is.

The dove that successfully brought up her children in the corner of the arbor did not rebuild there this spring. Maybe she decided there was too much traffic in the area for her taste and she relocated her nesting area.

This is perfectly understandable, but a little disappointing, as last year she and her offspring were the subject of a number of photos. She’d stare straight into the camera, and her babies, with their huge eyes and constantly open mouths, seemed oblivious to the activity.

Even though the barn cats are vigilant hunters in the night, they didn’t disturb either the wren or the dove. It would be naïve to think the birds were unmolested because the cats were struck with an attack of humanity. They either didn’t find them or were so busy hunting easier prey that they didn’t feel the need to wipe them off the face of the earth.

There’s another bird family established in the clematis vine behind the porch swing. I can’t see them, but I hear them. If we turn on the bedroom light in the night, this little family wakes up thinking day has come and twitters outside our window.

Spring is such a beautiful season and a gift after the winter. Every living thing celebrates being alive. And we benefit by just being here to see and hear it all.