Every year, during late summer nights (usually around 9:00 pm) in Maine, I hear a noise coming from high up in the trees. The trees I hear it from are mostly maple or conifer, but where I live there are few trees that are not. It sounds like a cardinal's chirp (fourth sound down in link), but longer, scratchier, and lower pitch. The sound starts and ends abruptly. There are three to six chirps in a row from the same tree, and then silence for a few minutes. Sometimes I will hear it again after a few minutes from the same tree and sometimes from a different tree. The skies are usually clear when I hear it. No one else in my family can hear it. I live in a suburban area, but when I go to a more densely forested area I hear it more frequently. Does anyone know what this is?

  • $\begingroup$ I think this question might be better fit for The Great Outdoors SE. There might be some people there who are more familiar with bird calls than the people here in Biology SE. $\endgroup$ Jan 16, 2016 at 0:45
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    $\begingroup$ @AleksandrH I did ask it there a few months ago, but no one has answered it. $\endgroup$
    – IOWF
    Jan 19, 2016 at 2:35
  • $\begingroup$ 1. Do you have a recording of the actual sound itself? 2. What time of night do you hear the sound? 3. Have you noticed what the weather is like prior to and during the time you hear the sound? 4. How high up in the tree is the sound? $\endgroup$ Jan 21, 2016 at 3:58
  • $\begingroup$ 5. What kind (i.e., species) of trees are you hearing the sound from? $\endgroup$ Jan 21, 2016 at 4:12
  • $\begingroup$ groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/maine-birds/nvlvEqggNjo $\endgroup$ Jan 21, 2016 at 21:59

1 Answer 1


My initial guess (knowing almost no information) is that it's a Northern saw-whet owl (Aegolius acadicus). These owls live year round in Maine but also increase in number as some migrate from Canada through Maine for winter. You can hear their advertising song here.

Northern Saw-whet Owls have a distinctive too-too-too call -- an insistent series of whistled notes on roughly the same pitch, given at a rate of about 2 notes per second. Males calling to advertise their territory can be heard up to half a mile away. Other males respond with a softer, faster, lower version of the call.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, but its not the one. The noise I hear is similar, but scratchier and less frequent. $\endgroup$
    – IOWF
    Jan 21, 2016 at 20:57
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    $\begingroup$ Darn. Ok. Please provide more info so that we can try to figure this out. Please answer my questions in the comments under your question. $\endgroup$ Jan 21, 2016 at 21:39
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    $\begingroup$ You still deserve a +1 :) $\endgroup$
    – Remi.b
    May 20, 2016 at 21:58

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