Why Do Owls Hoot? How and When Different Owls Hoot

Why do owls hoot? This behavior is quite complex and has a variety of reasons behind it. Owls are fascinating creatures, and their hooting is just one of the many things that make them so interesting. Bird enthusiasts and scientists have long studied the hooting behavior of owls, and there is still much to learn.

Owls are nocturnal birds, meaning they are active at night. They are also known for their impeccably silent flight, which allows them to sneak up on their prey. Coupled with their enviable eyesight, owls are deadly predators.

Though they are fierce hunters, owls are also quite shy and reclusive. In the wild, they will avoid contact with humans. During the day, they usually stay hidden in dense foliage or trees. As a result, bird watchers often have to wait until nightfall before seeing an owl.

Why Do Owls Hoot?

One of the primary reasons owls hoot is to communicate with other owls. They use hoots and calls to identify themselves, signal danger, find mates, and establish territory. In many cases, the meaning of an owl’s hoot can vary depending on its context. For example, a territorial owl will hoot differently than an owl trying to attract a mate.

Owls also use their hoots to communicate with other animals. For example, they may hoot to warn off predators or competitors. Some owls even use hooting as a way to intimidate their prey. By making a loud noise, they can startle their victim and make it easier to catch.

Owls also hoot to attract mates. Male owls will often hoot to try to impress potential mates. Female owls typically only hoot in response to a male’s hoots.

Different Types of Owl Noises

Owls make a variety of different hooting noises. These include:

a) Territorial Calls

These are short, sharp calls that owls use to mark their territory. There’s a lot of variation in these calls, as different owl species have different territorial calls.

b) Mating Calls

As you might expect, mating calls are used to attract mates. Therefore, male owls will often make various sounds to impress potential mates.

c) Alarm Calls

Alarm calls are used to warn other owls of danger. These calls are usually shorter and sharper than other types of owl noises.

d) Defense Calls

Defense calls are used to scare off predators or competitors. They typically involve a lot of screeching and hollering. For example, owls have been known to make harsh growling noises when they feel threatened.

Differentiating Owl Hoots

It is sometimes quite challenging to differentiate between the different hoots of different owl species. However, there are a few tips that can help.

Their pitch is the most obvious way to tell the difference between owl hoots. Generally speaking, deeper-pitched hoots come from larger owls, while higher-pitched hots come from smaller owls.

Another way to tell the difference between owl hoots is by their cadence. Faster hoots usually indicate excitement or agitation, while slower hoots are more calming.

Owl Hooting Behaviors

There are a few different behaviors that owls use when they hoot.

The most common is a soliloquy when an owl hoots by itself. This is usually done for territorial purposes.

Owls also sometimes do duets when two owls hoot back and forth to each other. This hooting behavior is typically seen during mating season as owls use it to try and find potential mates.

Owls will sometimes do a duetting behavior when two owls hoot together in unison. This is usually done by pairs of owls already bonded to each other.

When Do Owls Hoot?

Owls typically hoot at night, though there are a few exceptions. For example, the short-eared owl is active during the day and at night. However, the birds have been known to hoot the most during the new moon.

Owls typically hoot more frequently during the spring and summer months when they are trying to mate. However, you can hear them hooting at any time of year.

How to Listen to Owl Hoots

There are several ways that you can listen to owl hoots.

The easiest way is to go online and find an owl soundboard. This will allow you to listen to different owl species’ various hoots and calls.

Another way to listen to owl hoots is by using an app on your phone. Some apps allow you to do this, and most of them have a variety of varying owl sounds to choose from.

Finally, if you want to hear owls in the wild, you can go on a nature hike or visit an owl sanctuary. This will allow you to listen to owls hooting in their natural habitat.

Different Types of Owls and When They Hoot

There are various owl species, and each one has its unique hooting behavior.

a) Barn Owl

A barn owl is a medium-sized owl with long, pointy ears. They are found in various habitats, including forests, grasslands, and deserts. They typically hoot at night.

b) Great Horned Owl

The great-horned owl is a large owl with ear tufts. These incredible birds are found in North and South America, and they typically hoot during the day or at night.

c) Snowy Owl

The snowy owl is large with white feathers. They are found in the Arctic regions of Europe, Asia, and North America. These owls will hoot at different times of the day and night.

d) Northern Saw-Whet Owl

The northern saw-whet is a small owl with a reddish-brown cap. They are found in North America. They typically hoot at night.

e) Burrowing Owl

It is a small owl that lives in prairies and open fields. They are found in North and South America. They typically hoot during the day or at night.


Owls are amazing creatures, and their hooting is just one of the many things that make them so unique. When you have the chance to hear an owl hooting in the wild, be sure to take the time to listen. It’s an experience you won’t soon forget.

Besides hooting, owls are known for their characteristic facial markings, soft feathers, and large eyes. They are an essential part of the ecosystem and play a crucial role in controlling the population of rodents. Folklore and popular culture often depict owls as wise, but they are also very shy and reclusive creatures. They have also been a subject of spiritual myths and stories throughout history.

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