Hoot Owl Sounds: A Comprehensive Guide

Owls have been around for millions of years, and their sounds are as varied as they are. In this comprehensive guide to owl sounds, we will explore the different types of hoots and whistles that owls make, what they mean, and how you can identify them.

When people think of owl sounds, the iconic “hoot” is usually the first thing that comes to mind. This hooting sound is produced by male and female owls alike, but it’s typically considered a territorial call or a mating display.

Generally speaking, the deeper and longer the hoot, the more dominant the owl is. The hoot can also be used to warn rivals away from a particular area.

In addition to the classic hoot, owls are capable of producing several other types of vocalizations. For example, some species, such as the barred owl, make a loud “who-cooks-for-you” call.

This sound is often heard at night, and is used to set the boundaries of an owl’s territory. Other species may make a “whoo-hoo” sound or other kinds of whistles.

Another type of vocalization that owls produce is called “barking”. This sound is typically made by male owls as part of a mating ritual. The bark is usually a series of short, high-pitched calls that are given in quick succession.

It’s thought that the female owl will respond to this sound with her own call, so it’s important for males to be able to recognize and replicate it.

Owls also produce a variety of other sounds, including purrs, coos, clicks, and even screams. The purr is a low, rumbling sound that is used for communication between mated pairs. Coos is softer and more melodic than hoots or barks and can be heard when owls are courting or trying to form a bond with one another.

Clicks are short and sharp, while screams are high-pitched noises that are used to scare away predators or competitors.

Finally, owls can make several other kinds of sounds depending on their species and the situation they find themselves in. For example, barn owls make a hissing noise when threatened, and screech owls produce a long, drawn-out whistle.

Regardless of the sound they’re making, it’s important to remember that most owl vocalizations are not made with words or language and should not be interpreted as such.

To sum up, hoot owls produce a wide range of sounds for various reasons. From territorial calls and mating displays to warning calls and coos of affection, these vocalizations can tell us a lot about the bird’s behavior and its environment.

Whether you’re out in the woods listening for a distant hoot or trying to identify an owl call at night, understanding the different types of sounds they make is key to recognizing them.

17 Types of Hoot Owl Sounds and What They Mean

Hoot Owl

Hoot owl sounds are one of the most recognizable and unique calls in nature, thanks to their deep and haunting tones. But hoot owls can actually make a variety of different noises that have very specific meanings—and it’s important to know what they’re saying!

Here are 17 types of hoot owl sounds and what they mean.

1. The Whoo: This is the most commonly heard hoot owl sound—that deep “whooooo” that echoes through the night sky. It’s usually used to mark their territory, ward off predators, or indicate their location to potential mates.

2. The Hoot: This is a softer, slightly higher-pitched “hoooooo” sound that hoot owls make when they’re communicating with one another.

3. The Chitter: A chittering noise is often made by female hoot owls when they’re looking for a mate or trying to keep other owls away from their nest.

4. The Bark: A low, single-syllable “bark” is usually a warning signal to ward off intruders or predators.

5. The Kneel: This sound is made by two hoot owls as they bow their heads toward each other in a courtship ritual.

6. The Muffle: A low, muffled “hoo” sound is usually made by baby owls while they’re still in the nest.

7. The Yell: This loud, sharp “yell” indicates alarm or warning to other owls nearby.

8. The Cackle: A cackling noise is made by hoot owls when they’re excited, agitated, or angry.

9. The Giggle: This is a softer version of the cackle that indicates a more playful mood to other owls.

10. The Bark-hoot: This is a combination of the bark and hoot sound that indicates surprise or confusion.

11. The Purr: A low, rumbling purr is often made by female owls when they’re courting males.

12. The Mournful Cry: Sometimes hoot owls make a mournful cry when they’re separated from their mate or they’ve lost a nest.

13. The Wail: A long, drawn-out “waaaaaaahhhh” is made by owls when they’re feeling particularly stressed or scared.

14. The Churr: This sound is often used by younger owls to call for their parents in the night sky.

15. The Chuckle: A low, soft chuckle is often made by adult hoot owls when they’re feeling relaxed and content.

16. The Gurgle: This sound is often heard from baby hoot owls as they practice their hunting and flying skills.

17. The Puff: A short, single-syllable “puff” is used by adult owls when they’re trying to intimidate a predator or ward off an intruder.

Hoot owl sounds can vary in intensity, pitch, and duration depending on the situation or context—but understanding the meanings behind these different noises can help us gain insight into the fascinating world of owls.

What’s interesting is that some hoot owl species in North America have even been found to use specific sounds for specific purposes—like a “hiss-snort” used as an alarm call or a “churr-whoo” used to attract mates. Clearly, hoot owls have quite a lot to say!

6 Best Owls create amazing hoots

1. Barred Owl

Barred Owl

Barred Owls are one of the most common owls in North America. They get their name from the stripes on their chest and belly, which have a “barring” pattern. They’re also known for being one of the loudest owls when it comes to hooting, as their call is often heard during the night.

Barred Owls are also one of the biggest owls, with a wingspan of about 40 inches. Their hoots have been described as “who-cooks-for-you” or “who-who”, and they usually repeat this call several times in succession.

2. Great Horned Owl

The Great Horned Owl is one of the most recognizable owls in North America due to its large size, and distinctive tufts of feathers on its head. They’re also known for their loud hoots which can be heard up to a mile away. Their call has been described as “hoo-hoo-hoo”, and they can make a variety of other sounds, like screeches, barks, and whistles.

3. Snowy Owl

Snowy Owl

Snowy Owls are one of the most iconic owls in North America due to their white plumage. They’re mostly found in Arctic regions during the winter months when their white feathers make them almost invisible against the snow.

However, they can also be heard during the night with their loud hoots, which have been described as a “tremulous hoot-hoot”. They usually repeat this call several times in succession and it can carry across long distances.

4. Eastern Screech Owl

The Eastern Screech Owl is one of the smallest owl species in North America. They’re mostly active at night when their loud calls can be heard up to a mile away. Their hoots have been described as “whinny” or “trill”, and they usually repeat this call several times in succession.

5. Barn Owl

 Barn Owl

The Barn Owl is one of the most iconic owls in North America due to their ghostly white appearance and distinctive black eyes. They’re mostly active during the night, when their loud hoots can be heard over a mile away. Their call has been described as “shriek” or “scream”, and they usually repeat this call several times in succession.

6. Burrowing Owls

Burrowing Owls are one of the smallest owl species in North America. They’re mostly active at night when their loud calls can be heard up to a mile away. Their hoots have been described as “chirping whistles”, and they usually repeat this call several times in succession.

These six owl species are some of the most well-known for their loud hoots at night. Each species has its own unique call and it can be heard miles away in many regions across North America. It is important to remember that all owls are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and it is illegal to capture or harm any owls in North America.

With that being said, it can be a truly amazing experience to witness the variety of hoots these incredible birds make each night. Whether you’re out camping, hiking, or just relaxing at home on your porch, take a moment to appreciate the beauty and majesty of these nocturnal creatures.

Hooting is one of the most amazing sounds in nature, and it has been celebrated for centuries by countless cultures around the world. It is a reminder that even at night, there is still so much life and beauty in our natural environment. So next time you hear an owl hooting, take a moment to enjoy the sound and appreciate these magnificent creatures that call our forests and skies home.


Hoot owl sounds have been around for centuries and are still heard today in many areas of the world. These calls can be a sign of good luck or bad, depending on how they’re interpreted by people. In general, however, hoots can indicate an owl’s presence in your area, which is why it’s important to pay attention to them. By doing so, you can help protect the owl population in your area and promote wildlife conservation.


What does it mean when you hear an owl hooting?

When you hear an owl hooting, it can mean many things. Owl hoots are often used to communicate with other owls. For instance, a male owl will hoot to let females know he is looking for a mate. Owls also hoot to defend their territory from other owls. In addition, owls use hoots to warn others of predators or to call for help if they are injured. Sometimes, an owl’s hoot may simply be a way to express excitement or happiness. Regardless of the reason, hearing an owl hoot is sure to give you a sense of wonder and mystery.

What sounds like an owl at night?

One of the most distinctive and memorable sounds of the night is the call of an owl. But what exactly is making that sound? Owls are known for their excellent hearing, and they use their powerful vocal cords to project their calls across long distances. The shape of their mouth and throat also helps to amplify the sound. In addition, owls have special feathers that help to channel the sound of their calls, making them even louder. As a result, an owl’s call can carry for up to a mile, making it one of the most effective ways for them to communicate in the dark. So next time you hear an owl hooting in the night, you’ll know exactly what it’s saying.

Why do owls hoot at night?

There are a few reasons why owls hoot at night. For one, it helps them to communicate with other owls. Hooting is how they let others know where they are and what they’re up to. Additionally, hooting helps owls to attract mates. Male owls will often hoot to try and impress potential partners. Finally, hooting can also help owls to ward off predators or mark their territory. By making noise at night, owls can let other animals know that they are around and that they’re not afraid to defend themselves. So the next time you hear an owl hooting, remember that it’s just trying to stay safe and connect with its fellow creatures.
Julian Goldie - Owner of ChiperBirds.com

Julian Goldie

I'm a bird enthusiast and creator of Chipper Birds, a blog sharing my experience caring for birds. I've traveled the world bird watching and I'm committed to helping others with bird care. Contact me at [email protected] for assistance.