Hooting is not the Only Sound Owls Make
You will be surprised to know that not every owl hoots. Moreover, hoot is not the only sound an owl makes. Owls can chirp, bark, shriek, growl, whistle, as well as scream along with hooting. Scientists have termed these sounds as vocalizations.
Why do they Vocalize at all?
Owls have a plethora of vocalizations just to make communication easier. Most owls produce these sounds for communicating and sending across their messages. There are, interestingly, as many messages and signals as there are different kinds of sounds!
Different Owls, Different Sounds, Different Meanings
There is no particular sound for a message. It all varies from owls to owls. Mostly, owls vocalize in a low and loud pitch that helps in sending the sounds through long distances in the skies at night.
Hoots are a Claim of Territory
The hoots which most of us are familiar with is generally a territorial call. It can be heard across long distances and is a declaration of claiming a specific territory. It is also a disclaimer for other owls for staying away. The easily-recognizable “hoo-hoo-hoo” sound belongs to great-horned owls.
Screeches hold Several Meanings
Other than hooting, owls often screech from time to time. There are owls that resort to screeching when they are attacking their predator or feeling threatened. At times, they use loud screeching for attracting a mate in their mating season. People say that these screeching noises sound very similar to a woman screaming.
They can even Bark
Sometimes, owls start emitting low, short barking sounds when threatened or scared. They often bark to scare away whatever is threatening or scaring them. Some even growl for deterring predators. They turn into shrieks if they continue to feel threatened.
Baby Owls Shriek in Hunger
If you ever hear a weird shrieking at night, it is probably from the hungry baby owls. The parent owls usually go out at night for hunting for food. When the owlets wake up, they start shrieking to let their parents know they are starving and alone. This makes their parents come back to their nests quickly. Commonly, the owlets of common sooty owls, common scops owls, and the common barn owls are the ones who are known for their shrieks. (See What meanings and symbolism do birds have?)
Why do They Vocalize Only at Nights?
Well, the answer is pretty simple. Owls are nocturnal beings. They sleep all through the day and are active during the night. So, from claiming territory, mating, feeding their kids to hunting for food, and scaring off their predators, owls work and produce sounds only at night.
Why do Owls Hoot?
How far can you hear an owl hoot? Owls primarily hoot to claim their territory and fend off any would-be intruders.