What Birds Sound Like Owls?

There are plenty of birds, i.e., doves, pigeons, nightjars, and more, that do sound like owls. It is quite easy to distinguish the sound of owls, but some birds have similar calls as owls have. Yes, from the deep-chested hoot of the owl to the intimidating sound, or the eastern screech-owl’s ghostly whinnies- you may recognize such sound anytime in your neighborhood. 

Therefore, the voices of certain birds can confuse you into thinking they are owls, but in reality, they are not. Let’s take a look at some of the birds that sound like owls. 

Related Read: Colors Of Birds | Interesting Things To Know

What bird sounds like an owl during the day?

Mourning Dove is a bird that sounds like an owl during the day and is often mistaken to be an owl. You may have heard people saying that there is an owl outside their window in the daytime, but it is making more of a “hoo” sound. 

First of all, owl hooting is a rare phenomenon during the daytime as they are known to be nocturnal birds. Secondly, what bird makes a ‘hoo hoo hoo’ sound? Certainly, not an owl as it makes a hoot. So, if you hear a ‘hoo hoo hoo’ sound outside your window during the daytime, it is more likely to be a Mourning Dove than an owl.

Note: A Mourning Dove is a skittish blue-grey bird that is known for crowding every place – from window ledges to backyards. 

Related Read: Do Birds Get Periods? | If So, Do Female Birds Bleed During Periods?

What bird makes a hooting sound at night?

Apart from owls, Nightjars are another kind of bird that makes hooting sounds during the nighttime. Since they make hooting sounds at night, these North American nightjars are often mistaken to be owls. There are three nightjars that we would like to talk about here that are known for being quite vocal at night, much like owls:


This nightjar makes classic critter noises at night during the summer season with a quavering trill and found mainly in the central and eastern US. 


The Chuck-will’s-widow is a larger nightjar found in the Southeast US. It also makes a roughly similar call as a whip-poor-will at night. 

Western nightjar

A Western nightjar also makes hooting sounds at night, but it’s hooting is more of a whistling sound. 

Someone who is not well-versed with owl sounds is very likely to get confused between the nightjars mentioned above and owls, but it is not hard to distinguish between them once you get to know an owl’s hoot quite well. Owls generally do not make continuous hooting sounds, unlike these nightjars, which are known for making their bird calls for a long time, sometimes for hours. 

Related Read: Evolution Of Birds | How Have Birds Evolved Over Time?

What other birds sound like an owl:

There are many birds apart from the above-mentioned ones that sound like owls, and here is a list of them:


It is surprising to many, but there are many members of the dove family, including pigeons that sound like owls. A lot of them have soft hoots and murmurs that are very much similar to the hooting of owls. 

The classic mourning dove has a rhythmic hoot-like cooing bird call that will remind you of the big-eyed nocturnal birds. 

The band-tailed pigeon, a West Coast relative of the common rock pigeon, also has a bird call similar to those of owls with deep hooting sounds. 

The white-winged dove found in Southwestern US makes a sound that is vaguely similar to the call of the Mexican spotted owl. 

Wilson’s snipe

The Wilson’s snipe is a shorebird that belongs to the family of sandpipers and the American woodcock. The males of this species of birds make a winnowing sound during their flights that will remind you of the sound made by the boreal owl or eastern screech-owls. 

This sound is produced when the males fan their tail feathers while flying in order to attract the females during their “breeding” flight. This breeding flight takes place at night as well as throughout the day. 


The barn owl does not have a stereotypical owl call; it has a freaky scream rather, and there are certain jays, such as the Steller’s jay of western North America, that have a similar sound. 

Barn owls are typically found in most of the Lower 48 states all around the year, and it is also found all over the world commonly. They have a ghostly pale hue, and their call is not a hoot, whinny, or murmur but a raspy and harsh screech of a few seconds duration. 

The Steller jay makes somewhat of a similar screech as well as the scrub jay found in West Coast, Florida, and Southwest US. 

Related Read: Pigeon Diseases | Common sick pigeon symptoms & Behavior


Hence, the above-mentioned are some of the other species of birds that can be sometimes confused with owls because of the similarity in the sounds they make. 

If you’re interested to know what other animals sound like an owl, then you should know that coyote calls are often mistaken as owl calls. Yes, coyotes sound like owls, but they produce different sound patterns. So, if you don’t want to mistake another bird’s or animal’s call like an owl’s call, you must observe the sound carefully. That’s all!

Leave a Comment