Sunday, September 27


All the following are natural (spontaneous) calls except for Northern Saw-whet Owl.

Barred Owl (5.30 am,Sep, Mount Desert Island, ME).

Pair calling (May, PA)

Barred Owl, screech by presumed juvenile (5.15 am,Sep, Mount Desert Island, ME).

This call is quite similar to calls made by other owl species, for example the alarm call of an adult Northern Hawk Owl (June, AK).

As with other owl species, Barred Owls have a varied repertoire, which can sometimes make identification uncertain. The whine vocalization is somewhat similar to that of the saw-whet owl (Oct, PA).

A pair of Great Horned Owls calling to each other shortly after dusk (Nov, PA). The begging call of young birds is a shriek, and a similar call is used by adults during the period of pair-bonding prior to the breeding season.

Another bird with a similar, but different, shriek (near dawn, Nov, PA).

A higher shriek with bill snapping and chitter call at 15s (5.30am, Oct, PA)

Great Horned Owl pair duetting, the presumed female call (first and third calls) is higher, and the presumed male call lower (Nov, PA).

female call

male call

Great Horned Owl barking shortly before dawn. Shortly after barking for a couple of minutes, it began hooting (Oct, PA).

Long-eared Owls hooting and mewing shortly after sunset. This was a group of at least five birds that roosted in a mesquite thicket, returning quietly as it became light in the morning (I observed them at dawn on three mornings). I visited once at dusk and the birds were more vocal then than at dawn, but the calling only lasted a few minutes.
Two birds (presumed males) hooting (6.00pm, Feb, NV)

Hooting and mew-like (alarm?) calls

Northern Saw-whet Owl whine (5.30am, Dec, PA). A short series of spontaneous whines were heard initially which appeared to coincide with calls by a pair of Great Horned Owls that hooted briefly nearby. I played back a similar call and obtained this recording, preceded by a chitter. Then two small owls flew over my head in the darkness. Habitat was deciduous woodland with a dense understory of multiflora rose, not far from an open scrubby area.

Same location, probably the same bird, briefly responding to playback of tooting (12.10am, Feb).
Ksew calls by same bird

Ksew (Oct, PA)

This is the "skiew" call, made in this case in response to a dog barking, a call that is probably the sound that gave the bird its name (Scott Weidensaul pers. comm.)(Jan, PA).

Note though that the Eastern Screech-Owl has a similar call (Aug, PA).

Saw-whet whines in response to playback. Compared to the Eastern Screech-Owl wail, the whine is emphatic vs the somewhat plaintive screech-owl call, usually has prominent harmonics, and rises especially at the end (6.50am, Nov, PA).

(Oct, 6.27am, PA)

Compare with the Eastern Screech-Owl wail (Aug, PA)

Probable Eastern Screech-Owl wail. It is similar to the saw-whet call, but there is a slight wavering not heard in Northern Saw-whet Owl whine (Scott Weidensaul pers comm.). Eastern Screech-Owl wails usually lack harmonics and tend not to rise at the end. This recording is interesting in that it appears the owl is reacting to a flyover Green Heron (12.21am, Sep, PA).

Another example (Sep, PA).

Eastern Screech-Owl tremolo, used in courtship (1.00 am, Jan, DE)

Eastern Screech-Owl whinny, used to defend territory (Dec, PA).

Eastern Screech-Owl kew, with bill-snapping (5.15am, Aug, PA).

Adult at dusk calling in the vicinity of a calling fledgling. Note the similarity to the saw-whet owl ksew (8.30pm, May, PA).

Similar calls (Aug, PA).

Juvenile calls

The Barn Owl call is a shriek (poor recording, over saltmarsh at dusk, Apr, NJ)


SharonOpa said...

These are terrific! I love the inclusion of the sonagrams! Thank you for posting.

Unknown said...

Wow! Amazing Blog you have! I was able to identify our mystery creature, a Barred owl. Thanks so much!