Spring is the best time of year for enjoying outdoor music.

I’m not referring to the kind you might hear on a warm Saturday afternoon coming from a stage at an annual festival, or the kind a friend might play on a cool night beside a fire pit.

Actually, I’m not referring to music from any human source at all, but rather the natural kind provided by some of God’s most talented musicians – birds.

Doug Davison

Doug Davison

Each morning when the sun has just come up to the east of our remote Texas County high country outpost, and again each evening just after it’s gone down over the ridge to the west, I try to pay at least some attention to what the local members of the world-wide avian choir are up to. On some evenings, I’ll sit on the side porch and just listen for a while.

I think dusk is probably the best time, because my two favorites are often both involved: Eastern whippoorwills and bobwhite quails. I never tire of their repetitive and captivating deliveries, and I admire their timing as they repeat their parts again and again with precise pauses in between. To me, their combined input is especially characteristic of the Ozarks twilight, as the whippoorwill awakens for another nocturnal “day” and the bobwhite sings its way toward bedding down in the darkness.

Both birds’ songs are unmistakable – the bobwhite with its three-note, up-sweeping whistle, and the whippoorwill with its swirling double-sided chorus (both reminiscent of a man calling home his dog). When a bobwhite is singing out from the trees to the north and a whippoorwill is simultaneously crooning from the deep forest to the south, the result spurs as much feeling as it does hearing.

Perhaps even better is when two whippoorwills take turns soloing from distant positions in different directions. Masters of their craft (and trained by the true Master of all things), they never sing over each other and you can almost point toward each one when it’s time for its contribution.

My wife’s favorites are the red-winged blackbirds, with their gurgling vocals that sound strikingly similar to flowing, falling or bubbling water. Mourning doves also play an integral part in the Ozarks springtime orchestra, with their almost eerily melodic sounds, presented like they really are enduring (or anticipating) a mournful period.

There are, of course, numerous other worthy members of the winged ensemble (like the sparrows, finches, buntings, meadowlarks and even woodpeckers), each adding their own indispensable component to the overall production. When several members strike up a tune at once, it’s enough to make you want to get out a recording device.

But I believe it’s best not to, because each of these outdoor musical sessions is different and represents its own specific and unique segment of time. And therein lies much of the enjoyment.

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. Email: ddavison@houstonherald.com.