Screech in the Night
Name: Meredith T.
Date: Saturday, May 18, 2002
We live adjacent to Crane Wildlife Management Area
(Groveland/Georgetown/Byfield/West Newbury, MA) and are hearing a
terrifying screeching sound (seems bird-like) at 1:30-4 AM in the spring
and fall. We thought perhaps it is a night heron. Any other animals
that would make such a sound, and is there a web site we could hear these
The juvenile Great Horned Owl has a loud screech (short lived and one pitch
usually) to attract the attention of the adults. Juveniles are hatched in about
early March (depends on latitude)
and in April they begin to practice flight, etc., moving around and calling
for food all night.
Now as for the fall, it would be unusual for a juvenile to be calling for
food or whatever, however, it may be possible in September.
November is the beginning of the courtship behaviors of GHO's, and the young
of the spring are not a priority any longer. In any case, they should be
able to fare for themselves by that time.
The Screech Owl has a whistle-like hoot and I would not describe it as a
The other contender is the Barred Owl, the juvenile call is more like a
short bark like a dog.
All of these owl species reside in your area.
FYI: I studied (in the field) all three of these birds for two years
as part of my graduate work.
Screech Owl... most likely...I have heard them in northern NH.
Peter Faletra Ph.D.
Office of Science
Department of Energy
Perhaps a barn owl. Here is a site to start with that has one barn owl call.
There are others. A google search for bird songs will help you find some.
NOTE: Barn Owls are diurnal for the most part.
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Update: June 2012