Possible owl call?

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Melba's picture
Possible owl call?

Greetings all. This is my first contribution to this wonderful forum.

I heard a strange wheezing call last night (Friday 28/11/08) coming from my garden in inner northeastern suburban Melbourne. I investigated and saw two birds which resembled owls in a medium-sized tree, but only visible in silhouette: no colours or details were distinguishable.

I attempted to identify the wheezing call from recordings on this site and descriptions on this and other sites. The closest I could come was the barn owl, although no white was visible in the birds' plumage. For this reason I thought they might have been masked owls as their plumage can be dark.

Can anyone help identify this strange call? Has anyone else heard anything similar?

I haven't heard anything like this in 11 years in the same suburb. I certainly have heard and seen tawny frogmouths here on occasion, and this sound was nothing like the frogmouth's call.

I surmised that the pair could have been wooing and that the wheezing call might have been part of some kind of mating ritual.

Thanks in advance!


DenisWilson's picture

Possibly begging calls of fledgling Boobook Owls?

Melba's picture

Thanks for your prompt responses, John and Denis!

Yes, the call was very late at night, around 11pm to midnight.

The wheeze was definitely not a 'sigh' - more like someone having a severe asthma attack!

"Possibly begging calls of fledgling Boobook Owls?"
Certainly this is possible although I've never heard such calls so can't say for sure. There was a definite plaintive air to the calls so it could be a youngster begging for food.

Also the one that was calling was hunched up on a branch, rustling its feathers a bit as though in discomfort. The other flew off to another branch and sat watching. It had that slow gliding flight of an owl.

(Initially I had had the mistaken impression that it could be a bat, due to the large dark wings and being active so late at night.)

As for boobook owls, I listened to a recording of their standard call, and I can't say that I've heard them in this area before, although as I said I have definitely heard the monotonous, seemingly endless calling of the Tawny frogmouth, though not in connection with this particular sighting last night.


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