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Silent Summer

Every year as spring rounds the corner to summer we look forward to the return of the chuck-will’s- widow. It’s a humble beauty of a bird in the nightjar family, cousin to the whippoorwill. I’ve only ever seen one once, its eye caught in my headlights on the driveway, the low silhouette unmistakable. But we hear their beautiful song, well-described by the Audubon guide as a “rich, throaty chant”, at dusk and dawn throughout the summer. My husband Jeremy has heard them his whole life on this land where he grew up and where we now make our home, and I fell in love with them when I moved here twelve years ago. Chuck-will’s-widows, in our forest in the summer, are as much a part of the evening as the sun setting, as the fireflies, as the bats darting against the darkening sky. 
But this year, they have not come. It’s been a cool, wet spring, so at first we assumed they were just delayed. With fall nearly here, though, and they still haven’t come, filling the evening air with their call, we…

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