January 06, 2008

The Odd Cry in the Night

My previous post, on how to behave around mountain lions, was prompted by something that happened last night: M. and I heard an animal sound that we could not identify.

We had gone to bed about eleven o'clock. Since the temperature outside was about 30° F., relatively warm for a winter night, she left the bedroom window open a crack.

As I was drifting off to sleep, I heard something -- a far-off fox? Then the sound came again -- a two-note cry. Shelby, sleeping at the foot of our bed, came awake and started filling the room with her sharp collie barks, like rapid pistol fire.

Then Jack, the Chessie, came out of the kennel crate where he sleeps (which doubles as my bedside table), adding his deeper woofing. You couldn't hear yourself think, let alone hear what was outside.

Shelby was running to the front door, barking to be let out. We finally got the dogs partly settled down ("Dogs! Settle down! Get in your beds!"), and a dialog ensued:

"What was that?"

"It almost sounded like a poor-will."

"It can't be a poor-will in the middle of winter."

"I know that! But it didn't sound like a fox..."

Nor did it sound like coyote nor like an owl nor like one of the neighbor dogs. The only owls calling at this time of year are great horned owls, which are mating. They can produce amazing sounds, but this sound seemed different. It was more like a saw-whet owl, if the saw-whet stopped after only two notes.

And the dogs do not normally go into paroxysms of barking over owls, but only over bears, foxes, and other predators. So we are baffled.

1 comment:

Christy said...

Doesn't that just drive you batty? Well, it would me. I'd not be able to sleep for a few nights more because I'd be staying up hoping to figure out what it is. Ack!