A Chuck-will’s-widow in the Morning

About 6:30 this morning, the clear, ringing song of a Chuck-will’s-widow woke me like an alarm. Close and bright, singing from somewhere around our back yard, it was a voice from the past, an echo of what summers used to be. A relative of the Whip-poor-will, a Chuck-will’s-widow is a southern nocturnal bird that feeds on insects caught in flight. From the ground or a favorite perch it sings its name over and over and over again. This one stayed and sang for several minutes – long enough to attract our neighbor’s attention and curiosity, as well as mine.

The song of a Chuck-will’s-widow used to be a regular part of summer nights around our neighborhood,* but over the past ten years they became steadily less and less common, and this is the first one I’ve heard here in more than two years, so this one is a rare visitor – though it would be an even nicer surprise if it decided to stay around.

* “No Chuck-will’s-widow on a Summer Night,” Like the Dew, A Journal of Southern Culture and Politics, October 2009.

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