Mystery Bird Sound at Night

I was contacted by a reader in reference to a strange sound he was hearing near his house in Dennis, MA:

We live in Dennis Village area on the edge of an old bog less than 1/2 mile from the Bay.  We have been hearing a strange call after sundown.  It’s a shrill, somewhat high pitched ‘eeeek’.  It is coming from up in the trees.  It doesn’t sound like any type of owl.  One night it was visible (barely) perched on the peak of our garage roof – all that I could tell was that it was a large bird.  We have a rabid fox in the neighborhood and I’m wondering if it could be a rabid red tail hawk !! ??  We do have a red tail around.  Can you solve this mystery ?

Dennis is an area of the Cape that I am very familiar with. After ruling out a hawk and a little back and forth emailing, he sent me a recording of the sound he was hearing:

After listening to this recording, I did a little digging around and determined that it was most likely a juvenile Great Horned Owl.

Here is the sound of a juvenile Great Horned Owl to compare to his recording:



Mystery Bird Sound at Night — 5 Comments

  1. There has been a “call” at night this week (09/23/14) that we cannot identify. We live off the big marsh by Crows Pasteur in Dennis. The call is hard to describe but it is like a kind of higher pitched wherberling noise almost like when a dove takes flight in the day but much louder and pronounced. Our cat kind of makes the noise when he tries to meow while running and bouncing. It can be heard in the wooded area not the marsh side and is constantly on the move. Do you know what it might be ?
    Thank-You, Christopher Y Burns

  2. Did you ever find out what that sound was from? I have heard it here in Brewster as well as in the Berkshires.

  3. Hearing a shriek that is rhythmic coming from the top of the trees in the southern Adirondacks. Sounds like a woman screaming definitely not an owl. Been here for 30 years never heard it before

  4. I have also been trying to figure out what makes this sound. It does make a sound like a distressed cat. I was real concerned when first heard it and wanted to help out the animal. This is a sound only heard around 5am predawn. We live in central Alabama.