eight Bluebird on the electric lines. In the sky beyond was a single
Chimney Swift. More exciting though were two Nightjars, flying
toward the South, one calling to the other. They must spend their
days over the hill beyond the river, because their evening habit is to
pass silently over our ground flying toward the North.
When I was young there was sometimes a noise at night, that could curdle
blood and send grown men running for weaponry. The noise, I was
told, with that pat on the head, came from a "Smallish Owl", and
was not to be feared.
Then in the tree
outside the room where I slept, amongst the ripening Guava I heard what
sounded like the flapping of giant wings, followed by the sound of large
teeth feeding on Guava. The "Smallish Owl" chose that dark
moment to utter. It did so several times.
In the morning I discovered I had been made ashen by Fruit Bats. And
this time there was no pat on the head, rather there was an instruction to
next time chase the Fruit Bats away, or catch one, because apparently they
are easily netted and more delicious than Guava.
The delight I felt this morning at seeing
Nightjars, so clearly in the good light, came from the complete view I had
of their flight. In the evening I only see them as moving twigs in the
sky. I see their path which is usually a jig-jag and I know they are
feeding in the cloud of flying insects that must be up there, but which I
have never seen. Northward they fly and every time I see them I wonder
if I will ever see them again.
The Nightjar we see here in Kentucky
is a Whippoorwill. Its call can disturb the sleep, but has no content
within it that curdles blood. When I see these Nightjars in the
evening, I think of Fruit Bats and "Smallish Owls". Now that
I have seen them in daylight, I have that sense we know each other better.