This birdhouse is hanging from a lower limb of a big oak tree in our front yard. And yes, it is hanging at an angle! Several broods of sparrows were raised in it during the summer and sparrows — whether the same parents and members of their multiple broods, or strangers who’ve emigrated from neighboring yards — have continued to use it as a resting place, rather than a nesting place, during the late fall. It’s undoubtedly being used as shelter during the increasingly colder nights as well. It’s always a wee bit depressing to see the empty birdhouses tottering from the tree limbs as winter approaches, and to not hear the shrill chatter of the young ones as they scream for another meal. At the same time, their emptiness offers something to look forward to again in the spring. The birds begin picking out their spots early in the year, carrying sprigs of grass, string, bits of plastic and any other items they can find to line their nests with, bringing with them a spirit of rebirth which is a precursor of budding trees and sprouting seeds. Winter will undoubtedly seem long and dreary, but the optimist in me always anticipates spring.