Why Do Owls Hoot? All You Need To Know

  • Reading time:14 mins read
  • Post last modified:April 25, 2022

Snowy Owl Hooting

Why Do Owls Hoot?

Owls are well-known for their hooting behavior. These birds, on the other hand, do not hoot very frequently. Most of the time, these birds are deafeningly quiet. You may live next to a forest full of owls and never hear a single hoot from any of them.

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Although owls are usually silent, there are a few occasions when they will break their typical silence and hoot.

Listen Owls Hoot (Western Barn Owl – Tyto alba)

Credit: Manceau Lionel, XC659876. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/659876

Why Do Owls Hoot?

The top four reasons why owls hoot are as follows:

1. To Mark Their Territorial Claim

Primarily, owls screech to assert their territory and scare away intruders from their region. Similar to how wolves mark their territory by howling, this is a form of territorial marking. The majority of owls have some sense of their own region.

Barn Owl Hooting

They will make every effort to keep their hunting territory safe from any intruders. In order to communicate with others, owls hoot in order to communicate where they are, which is normally within their area. Other owls will be able to easily avoid them as a result of this announcement, minimizing the likelihood of a battle.

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2. To Alert The presence Of Predators

Owls may also yell at predators if they feel threatened. We’re baffled as to why they do this. It’s possible that they’re warning other owls or that they’re simply surprised by the predator. After hooting at a predator, a large number of owls will flee the area. While some will leave, others will remain and yell at them on a constant basis.

Listen Owls Hoot (Eastern Barn Owl – Tyto javanica)

Credit: Lim Ying Hien, XC613726. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/613726

Spotted Owl Hooting

3. To Mate

When owls are mating, the majority of them hoot. Because owls are known to mate for life in the majority of situations, they will communicate with one another through hoots. Numerous couples will also “sing” together in order to confirm their relationship and promote togetherness. As a result, if you hear two owls singing together, it is likely that they are going to mate.

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Owls hooting for mating

4. To Interact With Other Owls

Unless they are mates, owls generally do not converse with one another directly in their natural environment. Owls, on the other hand, can distinguish between individuals based on their hoots. Aggressive owls attack strangers who approach their territory.

Listen Owls Hoot (Eurasian Eagle-Owl – Bubo bubo)

Credit: Stanislas Wroza, XC702386. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/702386

However, if the owls are familiar with one another, they will be less hostile. Because of this, owls may hoot to alert other owls that they are not strangers, hence lessening their aggressive behavior toward them.

Snowy Owl Hooting while perching

Because owls are able to maintain consistency in their vocalizations throughout time, other owls can recognize them even after many years of separation. We don’t know how long owls retain their memories of other people’s vocalizations, but it’s possible that they do so for their entire lifetimes. Therefore, even after being separated, siblings and parents may be able to recognize one another.

How Do Owls Hoot?

1. Eurasian Eagle-Owl Song Hoot

Credit: Bram Vogels, XC650599. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/650599

2. Eurasian Eagle-Owl Begging Hoot

Credit: Baltasar Pinheiro, XC656744. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/656744

How To Interpret Owl Hoots?

Because owls only hoot for a limited number of reasons, it is typically simple to distinguish between their hoots. For example, the sound of a territorial hoot differs from the sound of a mating call. Having said that, the majority of owls can make at least 13 different noises.

Black Owl hooting

These will be used in a consistent manner in a variety of situations. It is therefore possible to tell what an owl is talking about with just a little basic knowledge.

For example, hostile hoots may be made by two males who are challenging each other or one who is letting the other know that they are not pleased with their presence. It could also be considered territorial noises. Typically, these hoots are louder and last for a longer period of time.

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Hoots produced by mating pairs are substantially more subdued. They are often composed of a sequence of hooting sounds made by two different owls and occur between them. Females will frequently hoot first, with the male responding to her hoots in turn.

This type of vocalization is typically heard more frequently around the end of the breeding season. Occasionally, females will begin the duet after the male brings her food, which is a common aspect of the mating ritual for many species.

When meeting a new owl, an owl may produce a crow-like noise to signal their presence. This is frequently referred to as a “greeting,” and the owl uses it to figure out who the other owl is. The owls will treat strangers with greater care than they will treat friendly ones.

When Do Owls Make Their Hoots?

If you’re interested in hearing an owl hoot, you can dramatically increase your chances of hearing their vocalizations by following these steps. Owls begin to hoot even before they are born into the world. Owls will hoot softly when they are in their eggs.

After hatching, the newborn owls will produce short chirps in order to communicate with their mother. When the mother is close by with food, the number of calls will rise. All of these hoots, however, are difficult to hear by the typical person since owls prefer to nest in areas where they are not disturbed by humans.

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In most cases, the best time to hear owls is during their mating season (March through May). This type of hoot will be produced by males during their first mating season.

It will, however, take some time before they are able to perform these hoots accurately. As a result, they may appear a little strange at first.

Long Eared Owl Hooting

Owls are known to hoot the most soon after the sun sets on the horizon. They will, however, continue to hoot throughout the night if necessary, according to the situation. Predicting the owl’s behavior is challenging because it is dependent on the owl’s specific situation.

Due to the fact that these owls are nocturnal, you are unlikely to hear them during the day. On cloudy days, though, they may be heard early in the morning, especially at night. Many species of owl will hoot their heads off during the new moon, when the sky is darker.

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Other species, on the other hand, hoot more when the weather is sunny. It might vary from owl to owl, and it can also fluctuate according on the time of year.

Owls Hoot vs Mourning Doves

Mourning Doves have a sound that is comparable to that of owls. They do, however, make the majority of their calls during the day. It’s likely that you’re hearing the hooting of a mourning dove during the daytime hours.

Mourning Dove perching on wall

This species has a predetermined hooting sequence that it follows. It sounds a little like “Hooooo, hoo, hoo, hoo, hoo, hoo, hoo, hoo.” The call of the owl will vary depending on the situation.

Listen Mourning Doves Hoot (Mourning Collared Dove – Streptopelia decipiens)

Credit: Peter Boesman, XC510411. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/510411

Additionally, as the series progresses, mourning doves become more and more silent, but this is not always the case with owls. Listen to a few videos of doves hooting and you’ll be able to discern the difference between them and owls in no time.

Take Away Message

An owl’s principal mode of communication is by hooting. However, because they are solitary animals, they do not make a great deal of noise. When you hear an owl hoot, it’s likely that you’ll be out late into the night.

Owls are most active in the night hours following sunset and during the breeding season. Some individuals may alter their degree of activity based on the time of the month.

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