Night Birds That Sound Like Squeaky Toys

Take a walk outside after dusk and you may hear a puzzling, squeaky sound coming from trees and bushes. What nocturnal bird makes those squeaks and squawks reminiscent of a dog’s favorite chew toy?

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Species like owls, nighthawks, snipe, and woodcocks are among the night birds that can emit squeaky vocalizations similar to squeaky dog toy sounds.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll identify key night bird species whose calls evoke the sound of squeaky toys. We’ll explore the anatomy behind their vocalizations, when and why they make these squeaky noises, and how to identify the birds based on their squeaking alone.


Owls are fascinating creatures of the night known for their unique calls. While some owls produce haunting hoots, others make sounds that resemble squeaky toys. Let’s explore a few types of owls that fall into this category.

Barn Owls

Barn owls (Tyto alba) are one of the most widespread owl species in the world. They are known for their heart-shaped faces and distinctive screeching calls. Their calls can range from a high-pitched scream to a sound that resembles a squeaky toy, often described as a raspy or hissing sound.

These sounds can be heard during courtship rituals or when they feel threatened. Barn owls are excellent hunters, using their exceptional hearing and silent flight to catch small mammals like mice and voles.

Screech Owls

Screech owls (Megascops spp.) are small owls found in various parts of the world. Despite their name, screech owls don’t always produce screeching sounds. In fact, their calls can range from trills and whinnies to a series of high-pitched whistles that sound remarkably like squeaky toys.

These calls are used for communication, territorial defense, and attracting mates. Screech owls are nocturnal hunters, feeding on insects, small birds, and rodents.

Great Horned Owls

Great horned owls (Bubo virginianus) are one of the largest and most powerful owl species in North America. Their deep hoots are iconic, but they can also make sounds that resemble a squeaky toy. These additional vocalizations include soft barks, hisses, and screeches.

Great horned owls are skilled hunters, capable of capturing prey as large as skunks and rabbits. They have excellent night vision and can rotate their heads up to 270 degrees, allowing them to spot prey from various angles.

If you are interested in learning more about owls and their unique vocalizations, All About Birds is a great resource to explore.


Nighthawks are a group of nocturnal birds known for their distinctive calls that resemble the sounds of squeaky toys. These birds belong to the family Caprimulgidae, which includes over 70 species worldwide.

Nighthawks are primarily found in North and South America, with some species also occurring in Europe, Asia, and Africa.

Common Nighthawk

The Common Nighthawk (Chordeiles minor) is one of the most well-known species of nighthawks. These birds are typically found in open habitats such as grasslands, deserts, and urban areas. They have a unique habit of foraging for insects at dusk and dawn, using their wide mouths to catch flying insects on the wing.

Common nighthawks are migratory birds, with populations in North America traveling long distances to their wintering grounds in Central and South America. During migration, they can be seen in large flocks, creating an impressive spectacle in the evening sky.

These birds are known for their distinctive call, which has been described as a nasal “peent” sound. Males often perform elaborate aerial displays during courtship, diving and spiraling through the air while producing a booming sound with their wings.

These displays are a sight to behold and are often performed during the breeding season.

Antillean Nighthawk

The Antillean Nighthawk (Chordeiles gundlachii) is a species of nighthawk that is found in the Caribbean islands. These birds have adapted to a variety of habitats, including coastal areas, dry forests, and agricultural fields.

One interesting adaptation of the Antillean Nighthawk is its ability to roost on the ground. Unlike other nighthawks that typically roost in trees or on rocks, the Antillean Nighthawk often rests on the ground during the day, relying on its camouflage to blend in with its surroundings.

Like other nighthawks, the Antillean Nighthawk feeds on insects, catching them in flight. They have a wide range of vocalizations, including a series of sharp, high-pitched notes that can be heard during their breeding season.

If you’re interested in learning more about nighthawks and their unique behaviors, check out the Audubon Society’s website for detailed information and stunning photographs of these fascinating birds.


Woodcocks are a fascinating group of birds known for their unique vocalizations that resemble the sound of squeaky toys. These birds are part of the family Scolopacidae and are found in various parts of the world.

There are two main species of woodcocks that are well-known for their distinct calls: the American Woodcock and the Eurasian Woodcock.

American Woodcock

The American Woodcock, also known as the timberdoodle, is a bird native to North America. It is primarily found in the eastern and central regions of the United States, as well as parts of Canada. Male American Woodcocks have a distinctive courtship display, during which they make a series of high-pitched, nasal “peent” sounds.

After the “peent” call, the male woodcock takes to the sky, creating a twittering sound with its wings. This unique display is often referred to as the “sky dance,” and it is a sight to behold for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts alike.

The American Woodcock is primarily a nocturnal bird, which means it is most active during the night. It has a long, slender bill that it uses to probe the soil in search of earthworms and other invertebrates, which make up the majority of its diet.

Despite its somewhat comical appearance and unusual vocalizations, the American Woodcock is a highly adapted and efficient hunter.

Eurasian Woodcock

The Eurasian Woodcock is a close relative of the American Woodcock and is found in Europe and parts of Asia. Like its American counterpart, the Eurasian Woodcock also has a distinctive vocalization that sounds like a squeaky toy.

However, the call of the Eurasian Woodcock is slightly different, with a more melodic and flute-like quality.

The Eurasian Woodcock is a migratory bird that spends the summer breeding season in northern regions and then migrates to milder climates during the winter. It is known for its ability to camouflage itself in its surroundings, making it difficult to spot in woodland habitats.

The Eurasian Woodcock also has a long bill, which it uses to probe the soil for food.

Both the American Woodcock and the Eurasian Woodcock are unique and intriguing birds. Their unusual vocalizations and captivating courtship displays make them a favorite among bird enthusiasts. If you ever have the chance to witness the sky dance of a woodcock or hear their distinctive calls, consider yourself lucky!


Snipes are a family of birds known for their distinctive calls that resemble squeaky toys. There are two main species of snipes: the Common Snipe and Wilson’s Snipe.

Common Snipe

The Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago) is a medium-sized wading bird that is found in wetlands and marshy areas. It has a long, slender bill that it uses to probe the mud in search of insects and other invertebrates.

The snipe is known for its drumming display, where it rapidly beats its wings to create a distinctive sound. This sound is often described as a “winnowing” or a “drumming” noise, which is why the snipe is sometimes referred to as the “winnowing bird.”

The Common Snipe is widely distributed across Europe, Asia, and North America. It is an elusive bird and is known for its ability to blend into its surroundings. In fact, its cryptic plumage provides excellent camouflage, making it difficult to spot in the wild.

Wilson’s Snipe

Wilson’s Snipe (Gallinago delicata) is a closely related species to the Common Snipe. It is slightly smaller in size and can be found in similar wetland habitats. Wilson’s Snipe is known for its distinctive “scaipe” call, which is a rapid series of high-pitched notes that sound like a squeaky toy.

Despite their similar appearance, the Common Snipe and Wilson’s Snipe can be distinguished by several features. The Wilson’s Snipe has a shorter bill and a white belly with dark bars, whereas the Common Snipe has a longer bill and a white belly with broad, dark streaks.

Additionally, the drumming display of the Wilson’s Snipe is slightly different from that of the Common Snipe.

Both species of snipes are migratory birds and can be found in different parts of the world depending on the season. They are fascinating creatures that add a unique touch to wetland environments with their peculiar calls that resemble squeaky toys.

Identifying Squeaky Night Birds by Sound

One unique aspect of the avian world is the wide array of sounds that birds produce. While many birds are known for their melodious songs, there are some night birds that have a rather unusual sound – they sound like squeaky toys!

These peculiar birds can add a touch of whimsy to the night and make for an interesting listening experience for bird enthusiasts.

Eastern Screech-Owl

The Eastern Screech-Owl is a small owl species that can be found throughout eastern North America. Despite its name, the screech-owl doesn’t actually screech but emits a high-pitched, trilling sound that resembles the noise of a squeaky toy.

This unique vocalization is often used during courtship or territorial displays. The call of the Eastern Screech-Owl is distinctive and can be easily recognized once you are familiar with it.

Barn Owl

The Barn Owl is a nocturnal bird that is found in various parts of the world, including North America, Europe, and Asia. While it is known for its eerie screeching sound, it also produces a variety of other vocalizations, including a noise that can be likened to a squeaky toy.

It is believed that these unique sounds are made by the owl to communicate with its mate or to claim its territory.

Other Night Birds with Unusual Sounds

In addition to the Eastern Screech-Owl and the Barn Owl, there are other night birds that produce sounds similar to squeaky toys. For example, the Northern Saw-whet Owl, which is a small owl species found in North America, is known for its high-pitched, squeaky call.

The call of the Saw-whet Owl has been described as sounding like a saw being sharpened or a mouse squeaking.

It’s important to note that not all night bird species produce these squeaky toy-like sounds. Each species has its own unique vocalizations that are used for various purposes such as attracting mates, defending territory, or communicating with other members of their species.

By familiarizing yourself with the distinct sounds of different night birds, you can enhance your birdwatching experience and better appreciate the diversity of the avian world.

For more information on night birds and their unique sounds, you can visit reputable birding websites such as All About Birds or Audubon. These websites provide detailed information on various bird species, including their calls and vocalizations.


The next time you hear an odd squeaking sound while outdoors after dark, listen closely – it may be a night bird like an owl, nighthawk, woodcock or snipe vocalizing. Their squeaky calls serve purposes like attracting mates, marking territory, or warning of danger.

With some observation and auditory learning, you can identify the avian squeaker based on subtle differences in their squeaking noises. So hone your birding skills by paying attention to the range of squeaks, squeals and squawks out there after dusk!

The world of birds has endless diversity, extending even to the squeak-like nighttime vocalizations of species like owls and nighthawks. Next time you think you hear a dog toy, consider the ornithological origins of those squeaky sounds!

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