10 Sounds Owls Make and What Each Means (It s Not Just Hoot!)


Western screech owls communicate using a series of hoots that speed up as they go on. These owls are found west of the Rockies and along the Pacific coast.


Northern saw-whet owls make a repetitive toot, sounding like a saw on a whetstone. Their "toot-toot-toot" call helps establish territory in North American coniferous forests.


Burrowing owls hiss like rattlesnakes to scare off threats and defend their low-to-the-ground territories, often shared with actual rattlesnakes.


Barking owls produce a "woof-woof" sound and a "yowing" call, which resembles a person crying for help. They are found in parts of New Guinea, the Moluccas, and Australia.


Barred owls can vocalize phrases like "who-cooks-for-you," using these calls similarly to songbirds for communication.


Elf owls, the tiniest owls in the world, chatter with high-pitched notes resembling an excited dog yipping. They inhabit the southwestern U.S. and Mexico.


Tawny owls perform a duet call of "twit-too" in the autumn woods, where the female says "twit" and the male responds with "twoo."


Barn owls produce eerie shrieks that can scare predators and communicate. They are widespread except in Antarctica, known for their haunting cries.


Burrowing owls, found in the Americas, call with a high-pitched "coo-coooooo." They live in underground burrows, unlike most tree-dwelling owls.

Baby Owl Sounds

Baby owls screech when hungry, hiss when upset, and whimper for attention. As they mature, great horned owls develop a clear "hoot" sound.