Trying to identify Washington State bird by sound heard at night.
August 1, 2008 11:03 PM   Subscribe

Please help me identify this bird in Washington State (nocturnal). I didn't see it, but I heard it. It was a long screech, starting at a low pitch, and ending at a high pitch. The screech lasted a full second or so. There was one right in front of my house, and another in the backyard. If it helps for region, I'm out in Snohomish where there's tons of pine trees around.
posted by DCTapeworm to Science & Nature (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Horned owl.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:29 PM on August 1, 2008

Here's a very short clip of the shriek. They also have the low "WhOoo who who who wHOOoo" call. Raccoons can also screech.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:42 PM on August 1, 2008

My link changed. Scroll down to Great Horned Owl--Nocturnal Shriek.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 12:28 AM on August 2, 2008

Listen to the two recordings on the right here, just below the photos.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 12:33 AM on August 2, 2008

I was going to post a similar question regarding a nocturnal bird sound in greater Victoria, BC. I think it's an owl, too. But it's not the usual hoo-hoo-hoo-HOO-hoo sounds that are linked to under Great Horned Owl. Those I have definitely heard around here at night where I live (the neighbourhood is not quite rural, but surrounded by trees and a forested regional park with plenty o' critters). (I had to find out what it was after I finally clued in that dogs don't bark that rhythmically!)

What I hear that I can't identify almost sounds mechanical, like a small drill speeding up. It starts lower, rises and stops. It's almost a whine, but a mechanical-sounding whine. It doesn't sound "bird-like", but it's also not entirely mechanical-sounding, either. It's not a drill, but an animal. It's a high-pitched whine that rises, then stops. Almost "rusty".

I heard it last summer as well, and one time I did see two owls high in a tree at the same time, so an owl is my best guess. However, this was just as dusk was becoming dark. This year, I've only heard it after dark, so I can't spot the bird(s).

We also have raccoons around here, but the sounds come from "up" in the trees, higher than I've seen raccoons in trees. is the closest to the sound I can find, but imagine one call, rising, with long pauses in between.

Anyway, to make a long post shorter, I think I'm hearing what DC Tapeworm is hearing, which seems logical, as we're both Pacific Northwest. Off to Google to keep searching!
posted by Savannah at 9:51 AM on August 2, 2008

Is what you're hearing this? The second, rising call sound in the clip is very, very close to what I am hearing these evenings. I only hear the rising bit, though, and it seems as if it's usually two birds making the call back and forth between them. The short-eared owl seems to be all over North America.
posted by Savannah at 10:24 AM on August 2, 2008

DC Tapeworm, is what you're hearing on this page, second result down? (125374)

That's what I'm hearing--they were calling a lot last night, and closer to the house, too, just in the trees that surround the back yard. Spotted owl.
posted by Savannah at 11:32 AM on August 3, 2008

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