If I had to pick out one of the best singers of the evening it would go to a saucy little wren. It chatters away, loud and clear, and happy. I am listening for a whippoorwill that I heard a few evenings ago, but not this evening. Perhaps it knows something about the coming storm and has found some sheltered place.

Now there is complete silence. Not a breath of air, not a hint of birdsong. And then I heard a low growl—thunder in the distance. A bit of a cooling breeze washes over me, and the birds begin signing once more, no doubt wanting to complete their regular sunset chorus ahead of the storm that creeps ever closer.

Missing from the collection of birds I see and listen to this evening are bluebirds. The house pictured above is equal distance from the cabin and the garden. A pair of bluebirds has nested in that house for at least ten consecutive years. Not this year. What has happened to the bluebirds? If you have an answer email me at

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Birdsong in the evening—a great way to end the day.

Jerry Apps, born and raised on a Wisconsin farm, is Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the author of more than 35 books, many of them on rural history and country life. For further information about Jerry's writing and TV work go to 

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