what bird sounds like a woman screaming at night

You’re laying in bed, sound asleep, or counting leaping sheep as you drift off into dreams. And then, a scream. Or perhaps a screech. Or a guttural moan. Or a wail from beyond the window.

Many creatures make mysterious noises in the night, but in darkness it can be hard to tell just which species made that strange sound that you hear.

Here are seven potential suspects to narrow your search; critters that are could be in your backyard, or your favorite campsite, adding their sounds to the night’s chorus. See if you recognize their calls, and write in to tell us what other weird noises you’ve heard in nature.

The bush stone-curlew, or Burhinus grallarius, is a nocturnal, ground-dwelling bird that lives in Australia’s open forests, grasslands, mangroves, and salt marshes. It is gangly yet incredibly graceful.

The bush stone-curlew may have a mild appearance, but its call could chill almost anyone. They are known as the “screaming woman bird” because of their prolonged, high-pitched shrieks that are audible throughout the night as they attempt to communicate. This unsettling behavior may help to explain why some indigenous Australian cultures associate the species closely with suicide and death.

On the other hand, its reaction to a predator is nearly the complete opposite. The bush stone-curlew will freeze motionless if it detects a fox, dingo, or goanna nearby, frequently adopting the most bizarre and awkward postures.

A bush stone-curlew’s relationship with their mate lasts for the duration of their lifetime, which can be up to 30 years. This indicates that although courtship behaviors are rarely seen, it is thought that a complicated dance and call are given, occasionally in the air. Observers have referred to their behavior as a “whistling concert” or “glee-party,” so whatever they do must be pretty impressive.

Even with its own kind, the bush stone-curlew becomes extremely territorial during breeding season and will use that loud cry to ward off competitors. In order to appear bigger and more powerful, it will also spread its wings and puff up its chest in an aggressive display.

You’re falling asleep soundly in bed, or you’re dreaming of counting leaping sheep. And then, a scream. Or perhaps a screech. Or a guttural moan. Or a wail from beyond the window.

Here are seven possible suspects to help you focus your search: animals that might be in your backyard or at your preferred campsite and contributing to the chorus of the night. Check to see if you can identify their calls, and send us a note about any other strange sounds you’ve heard in the outdoors.

Numerous animals produce enigmatic sounds during the night, but it can be difficult to identify the exact species in the dark.