Songs and calls of some New York State birds


All sound files are mp3 files.
Images are adapted from drawings by Chester A. Reed, B. S. in Chapman.

Barred Owl
Strix varia
Three hoots
whoo-ah (Chapman)
I came across this fellow around 9 AM in the Mohonk preserve. We stared at each other for about ten minutes. Every so often he would hoot. Each hoot was accompanied by a white flash from his collar as his throat pouch swelled (and presumably showed the lighter, lower parts of the feathers).
New Paltz, June 1997.

Common Screech Owl
Otus asio
"A mournful whinny ... Sometimes a series on a single pitch." (Peterson)
"... a mellow, tremulous quaver, hauntingly lovely." (Puleston)
Long Island, August 1996.
"Oh-o-o-o-o that I never had been bor-r-r-r-n! sighs one on this side of the pond, and circles with the restlessness of despair to some new perch on the gray oaks. Then- that I never had been bor-r-r-r-n! echoes another on the farther side with tremulous sincerity, and- bor-r-r-r-n! comes faintly from far in the Lincoln woods." (Thoreau, Walden)

Great Horned Owl
Bubo virginianus
"A resonant hooting of 3 to 8 hoots; male usually 4 or 5, in this rythm: Hoo, hoo-hoo, hoo, hoo; female lower in pitch, 6 to 8, Hoo, hoo-hoo-hoo, hoo-oo, hoo-oo." (Peterson)
"Female voice higher-pitched than male." (Sibley)
Long Island, January 2001.
Pair of Great Horned Owls
Pair of Great Horned Owls [Note sonogram of this clip below. The rythms are different, but the two pitch ranges overlap.]

Female Great Horned Owl interrupts male. Frequency range 0-1470Hz
Long Island, March 2007.

"For sounds in winter nights, and often in winter days, I heard the forlorn but melodious note of a hooting owl indefinitely far; such a sound as the frozen earth would yield if struck with a suitable plectrum, the very lingua vernacula of Walden Wood, and quite familiar to me at last, though I never saw the bird while it was making it. I seldom opened my door in a winter evening without hearing it; Hoo hoo hoo, hoorer, hoo, sounded sonorously, and the first three syllables accented somewhat like how der do; or sometimes hoo, hoo only." (Thoreau, Walden).

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Tony Phillips
Math Dept, Stony Brook University
tony at math.stonybrook.edu
August 1 2014