night scream

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woody
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night scream

i have a nighttime sound, a scream almost like a child's, which i can't identify. at first i thought it was dingoes, because they can come up with some fairly strange sounds and i first heard it on our family's property on bustard bay qld, soon after we noticed dingoes for the first time a few years ago. this property is quite isolated and it had to be a wildlife sound. i recently heard it again in suburban brisbane but in an area where dingoes are known. in trying to spot the dingoes in brisbane i could find nothing, but i did see two reasonably large birds fly off.

al
al's picture

Hi woody,
what you heard could be the voice of a Barking Owl.
Sometimes they make a sound like a child's scream.
al

Birdfreak
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Hi woody,

al is right about it being an owl, but I haven't heard of Barking Owls making the screaming call. Owls it could possibly be include: Barn Owl, Masked Owl and possibly Sooty Owl which sounds more like a falling bomb.

Max Breckenridge,
Gladesville, Sydney...

DenisWilson
DenisWilson's picture

The call of the Barking Owl has been discussed on this forum before. The call is legendary, as the source of the "lost child" or "lost woman" myths from early colonial days.
The BiBY site says:
"Calls: The Barking Owl has two main calls, both distinctive and unmistakable. The first is a double-noted, dog-like "wook-wook", and the second is a wavering human-like scream."

Unfortunately the recorded call give on that site is only the barking call - but the validity of this call is well and truly documented - by experts. It should not be dismissed.
Denis

al
al's picture

Hi Denis,
you can hear a recording of the Barking Owls
"wavering human-like scream" here:
http://www.owlpages.com/owls.php?genus=Ninox&species=connivens
al

DenisWilson
DenisWilson's picture

Thank you so much Al, for providing that link.

I get a bit stroppy about that call, as I have heard it myself, once, and it is remarkable. Once heard, one will never forget it.

Lost Children stories are abundant, and reveal the anxiety of early settlers in a strange and alien land. It is important in early colonial art, e.g., McCubbin's "lost child".
http://www.artistsfootsteps.com/html/McCubbin_lost.htmand in early Australian literature
http://www.latrobe.edu.au/oent/Staff/gough_papers/noelg_JCP_2006_proofs.pdf
"the image of the bush-lost child was uniquely Australian, ..... Australian Aborigines usually feature in stories
of bush-lost children as ‘black trackers’—a means by which European settlers recovered their children (dead or alive) from the land. The image of the bush-lost child, and the associated bush search scenario, rapidly came to be regarded as an affirmation of community ....
"lost children were cast as passive victims and, if they were found alive, their survival was attributed either to divine intervention or to the actions of their rescuers, who were usually men (rarely women) and/or Aboriginal trackers working under the orders of European settlers. Bush-lost children who died (or, worse, were never found) were understood as warnings against the seductive lure of the Australian bush and the fragility of life on the margins of European settlement. As Pierce (1999) points
out, one of the literary conventions of the Victorian era was to use a child to symbolize the future, and these early lost child stories can thus be seen as indicators of a deep unease about the European presence in Australia."
Many Children did go missing in early Australia, but more searches were organised, on account of the mysterious cries for help which were heard by early settlers, than were ever matched to actual reported missing children.
This theme is taken seriously in Australian art and literary studies, but few people, even the Academics, realise it has its origins in the scary call of the Barking Owl.
Once again, Al., thanks for the link.
Pretty amazing website, by the way.
Cheers
Denis

al
al's picture

I haven't been as lucky as you Denis. I only hear the typical barking call on our farm in Central Vic every year.
Some forty years ago, while spotlighting at Jenolan Caves in NSW, I heard a screaming sound very much like
a woman's high pitched scream, but that turned out to be a Sooty Owl.
I agree with Birdfreak that other owls, at times, also make a screaming or screeching sound.
Thank you very much for the interesting links about the lost children.
Cheers,
al

ed
ed's picture

See barking owl thread. These three made every sort of 'owl' noise and a few that I would never think an owl could do, except the 'scream'

Ed Townsville NQ

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