Whip-poor-will

Whip-poor-will, whip-poor-will, whip-poor-will….

Boisterous and jubilant, a chorus of birdsong pours through my open window at 4:00 am. Along with the cardinal’s call, another voice harmonizes.

Whip-poor-will, whip-poor-will, whip-poor-will

I lie still with my eyes closed and recognition dawns. The call is unmistakable.

Whip-poor-will, whip-poor-will, whip-poor-will

I’ve not heard the live song of a Whip-poor-will in my life! At least not with any conscious recognition. Onomatopoeia! There is a Whip-poor-will on the other side of the screen! Instead of choosing annoyance at this loud intrusion, he doesn’t stop to breathe, I choose curiosity.

A Whip-poor-will? They live around here? I’ve been ignorant of this neighbor for twenty years?

Whip-poor-will, whip-poor-will, whip-poor-will

Sure enough, when get up and search, I find the Eastern Whip-poor-will is native to my range (my range?)—more often heard than seen because of its feathered camouflage. The species sings at night for up to two hours at a time.

Whip-poor-will, whip-poor-will, whip-poor-will

There are numerous cultural references to the call of a Whip-poor-will—movies, songs, literature. Blogs? ;)

Whip-poor-will, whip-poor-will, whip-poor-will

The sun is up. The Whip-poor-will is now resting its vocal cords.

I am a little wiser.


Today I’ll hear a commencement address. I don’t envy the speaker’s task. There is no one size fits all and life advice is abundant. What to choose for the robed who will fidget in their seats?

This morning the Whip-poor-will told me to choose curiosity over annoyance.

Do you think that’s good advice?