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You are watching: Owl that sounds like a horse

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It’s late summer and once again the eastern screech owls space singing in our timber every evening--or v the night if there is a full or gibbous moon. Of course, this isn’t the only time of year that screech owls sing, though they are usually quiet between November and also January. Moreover, they have a big vocal repertoire. What we are hearing now is referred to as the “descending trill,” which is conveniently mistaken for the whinny that a horse. The very first night i heard it at Seasons, our ar in the Taconic Hills of brand-new York, the owl to be sitting in an old hickory a few yards from ours bedroom window and the whinny was so loud and also insistent that ns was particular one of ours neighbor’s draft equines was in dire distress.




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A tremulous wail that lasts about two secs with a falling inflection at the end, this song might be recurring several times. And also to human beings who don’t understand the source, the sound is so ominous the it was once described as “a many solemn, graveyard ditty, the common consolation of self-destruction lovers.” In fact, the diminish trill is the masculine screech owl’s ar song. We’re hearing the so often at this time of year due to the fact that the juvenile owls that left their colony cavities in mid- come late may in the Northeast room suddenly live independence of your parents and are searching for turf of their own.

There’s one more screech owl song that ornithologists speak to the “monotonic trill.” provided by courting males, it is composed of 30 to 70 quick notes on a solitary pitch and also lasts 3 to six seconds. Neighboring males sometimes sing in synchrony in ~ night. Then there are assorted hoots, barks, yips, screeches, screams, rasps and also rattles, every with specific meanings come the birds. Right here are part samples the screech owl vocalizations from the Cornell laboratory of Ornithology.

I’ve only heard, not seen, our resident screech owls (or the an excellent horned owl that occasionally visits ours wood) so i can"t tell you if they are red or gray phase. I most likely should spend a moonlit night in a stakeout under the trees, armed with a huge Mag-Lite. However, ns remember that long ago, as soon as I was a really young birder indeed, I organized a red-phase owl in my hands together it died, apparently from eat a mouse poisoned by the folks next door. And I cried.