Monday night, around 2 am, I woke up to a horrible screeching sound and my first thought was, of course, “BANSHEE!” It went on for maybe 30 seconds and then stopped. Once I’d woken up sufficiently to reassure myself it wasn’t actually a banshee, I figured I’d just heard some animal being eaten by another animal – unfortunate, but, you know, the circle of life and all that, I guess.
Then last night, again around 2 am, I was jolted awake by the same noise. This time it went on for maybe a minute. When it was over and I’d once again convinced myself that it probably wasn’t a banshee, I decided to figure out what was making such a horrible noise. When I’d told Liz about it on Tuesday, she’d suggested that maybe it had been an owl, so I started my google search there. Turns out eastern screech owls live in Illinois! But, after listening to a couple of websites that had audio clips of their calls, I learned that, contrary to their name, screech owls? Don’t screech.
So I started searching for pretty much the title of this post and up popped a similar question from someone in Ohio – they were guessing it was either an owl or a fox. One of the people who answered the question linked to a video of foxes making various sounds and, lo and behold, that was what I’d been hearing! But you have to close your eyes and pretend that it’s just woken you up in the middle of the night (it’s not that scary when you see the little fox actually making the noise).
Isn’t that horrifying?! I agree with one of the commenters who says “We seriously thought we had a velociraptor living in the pond area behind our apartment. The sounds at the beginning of this are identical to what we heard. Who would ever guess a fox makes this noise? It was utterly bone-chilling when we heard it.”
Apparently more and more foxes are moving into urban areas – it keeps them safe from coyotes and there are plenty of rabbits and squirrels to snack on (and probably garbage cans to root through). Everything I read said that foxes are hardly ever a threat to dogs and cats which is a relief because there are at least two neighborhood cats around here that go outside. But there are also chickens somewhere (I know because I often hear the rooster in the morning) and it sounds like foxes are good at burrowing into coops, so I hope their owner has taken necessary precautions!
I’m happy to have more wildlife around here, but…they need to not make that noise anymore.