Monday, June 5, 2023


Owl sounds: How many of these unique owl calls can you identify?

By Cheri Sicard
Have you ever listened to the calls of night birds and wondered if they were owl sounds? And if they are owl calls, what kind of owl(s)?

The video below produced by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology provides lots of useful information for owl enthusiasts.

It could also turn into a fun game to play with the kids or grandkids while camping or RVing. Watch the video below together then try to identify the sounds while on your trip.

The video lets you clearly hear the distinct sounds of four different types of common owls. It plays the sound, then shows a photo of what the owl looks like while again playing the sound several more times.

At the end of the video, they play all four birds together, which really lets you practice distinguishing them.

Distinctive owl sounds covered in this video

  • Barn owl
  • Eastern screech owl
  • Western screech owl
  • Barred owl

I have to say that while on my Long Long RV Trip I have heard several of these calls.  Although I was not able to identify them at the time. And some I heard I did not associate with owls, although after watching the video, I realize I should have.

This was especially true while at my Civil War battleground campsite in Virginia, which was bordered by woods on one side.

However, I have never been lucky enough to actually see any owls, outside of zoos, that is.  But I have definitely heard the sounds of owls emanating from wooded areas near my various rural campsites around the country.

As most owls are nocturnal, you will increase your chances of spotting one and hearing one at night. Owls use their calls to establish territory as well as to attract mates.

According to the information in the video, you can often even hear owls in fall and winter, times when most other birds are quiet. That’s because some species of owls begin nesting as early as midwinter.

I am not sure where the Barred Owl lives, but I think hearing that sound, reminiscent of a horse neighing, might freak me out a little in the middle of the night.




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8 months ago

One of the most interesting jobs I have had involved surveying owls. So, yes I have heard or listened to all these calls. The Barred Owl lives across the country and has a wide range of calls one of which is that agitated call you hear in the video.
My favorite time to hear owls is right when I am going to sleep for the night. I am lucky to often hear them where I live.

8 months ago

I’ve heard many a barred owl in North Carolina, and they sounded nothing like this. They’re hooters, and have a very distinctive hoot.

Last edited 8 months ago by drc
8 months ago
Reply to  drc

I agree that the hoot you mention is their typical call but they also make this call in the video in this article. I have heard them making it usually when they are agitated. I live in the Pacific NW so maybe it is more commonly heard in this area.

Bob p
8 months ago

No hoot owls?

8 months ago
Reply to  Bob p

The barred owl is a hooter. See my comment.

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