Thursday, July 8, 2010

Have you ever heard a six foot scream?

Or tried to describe any other sound you heard using words? It’s not always easy but yet we still try. One of the best descriptions we’ve ever received to date came across our answering machine this week. The caller wanted help in identifying a noise he’d been hearing that he suspected to be an owl. Let me share his description:

“For a month now, just when night comes on we’ve been hearing a screeching noise that sounds like a cross between a bottle rocket going off without the explosion and a little girl stuck in a tree.”

He went on to say that he suspected it was a screech owl but was wondering if there was a chance something had been illegally trapped or whether it was likely that screech owls would sit in their nest screaming all through the night.

Talking amongst other staff in the office (and a visit to we agreed that it was likely a screech owl family because we knew the young would be going through the weaning process this time of year. When young raptors go through this process they can become quite raucous in their protests.

Another one of my favorite sound descriptions comes from a gentleman who wants to relive the experience of hearing the noise and subsequently having us help him to identify it each time he calls with another question or animal in need. The noise in question was described as such:

“First the hair on the cat’s back stood straight up. The noise started out like a high-pitched bark but I knew it wasn’t coyotes. The best description I can give it is that it genuinely sounded like a pack of wild apes or rabid monkeys.”

This cat reportedly wasn’t scared of foxes and coyotes, but that noise caused it to have a “look of terror” in its eyes. And the caller goes on to describe how many other people, organizations, friends and game wardens he spoke with before reaching someone at the Wildlife In Need Center who “described to a T” the noise in question when describing a noise that is commonly heard from the likes of a Barred owl.

The more common sound descriptions we get are from individuals who have rodents in their attic or possibly a raccoon or feral cat arguing over food scraps in the night. While writing this fun story about some of the non-emergency calls we get here at WINC, I’ve decided that in a future blog post I will expound on this topic to include some of the other “descriptors” we are often asked to identify. Be forewarned that some of these descriptions are not for the weak-stomached.

To find out more about animal sounds you can visit which postures itself to be the “world’s largest archive of animal sounds and video.”

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