Barred Owl Scream

Back in 2007, I was recording elk bugling in Pennsylvania late at night. Often, the sounds of elk bugling cause other animals to vocalize, or otherwise be disturbed by all the ruckus. Often owls would vocalize in response to the bugles. This night, I managed to record a relatively rare, Barred Owl scream. The Barred Owl scream is not very well documented and is absent in recorded sounds of Barred Owls on the Internet. Over the years, I have heard many people get confused, and scared by this scream that most people have never heard. In this recording, the Barred Owl is directly responding to the elk bugling, and the elk seems to respond to the owl. The elk is primarily on the right, and the Barred Owl is on the left. Barred Owls generally have this scream response to things that might upset or startle them, or it is used in confrontation with a competing owl.

PA Elk Barred Owl 092307 Gilmore Trail f0211


12 thoughts on “Barred Owl Scream”

  1. very other-worldly! We’ve heard Barreds’ ‘scream’ like this in the past — usually in response to another Barred from what I could gather. Excellent recording!

  2. Thanks for posting this. I heard owls vocalizing this pat weekend when I was up at my camp in the Adirondacks. I have heard the barred owls up there ever since I can remember, but never have I heard them scream, so I did not know it was them. Thought they might have been saw whet owls until I heard your recording.

  3. I was startled (make that scared witless) one early morning by a barred owl screaming right above me when I got out of my car. I had to research a bit to discover what it was. I was pretty convinced it was a puma for a bit. That was in NE Ohio.

  4. This is the best recording I’ve found online of the Barred Owl. We have them near my cabin in rural Eastern Ontario. Scared me half to death the first time I heard it.

  5. We heard something in the woods in north-central Wisconsin that reminded me of elk bugling, but not quite, and it was followed by a “chuff chuff chuff “. Your Barred Owl here is the closest sound I’ve found on the internet yet….so maybe it isn’t Bigfoot after all.

  6. I heard a few this pre-Fourth of July night in Winslow Twp, NJ, with nitwits shooting off fireworks. Figure the owls were as distressed (pissed) as I was about the noise.

  7. Just heard one here. We have a pair nesting nearby annually so I have heard a few times but it seems rare. I am not frightened easily, but it gives me chills every time. like your situation, I think you’d have to be recording for other things to get that lucky. When I have heard it, it is a single scream maybe with some supporting vocalisation, but not repeated. The closest I can think of would be the scream of a peacock, but I agree with person who said it wounded like a puma or wild cat too. Once I heard what sounded like a screaming banshee in flight, the sound moved through the woods as only a flying thing could do but it sounded like an almost human noise. Another time I heard a scream, terrified me and then I saw the mother barred fly in to feed the youngster. That scream was made as she was on her way to feeding fledgling.

    Must be hard to associate this with a behaviour. Rare to hear, rarer to see, super rare to be able to associate it to a situation or behaviour. (Will listen to your recoding when the cats aren’t around!)

  8. I heard this yesterday at my home in Missouri. The owl was being “chased” by smaller birds. He was flying in circles screeching that eerie scream, something that I had never experienced before. When I searched the Internet to find out a about this behavior, I found your recording. Thank you so much for helping me solve this mystery.

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