Do Owls Purr?


Yes, owls can purr.

The Barn Owl makes a softer, more wavering version of its call, which is termed a purring call.

Males use it to invite a female to inspect a nest site, and females use it to beg for food from the male.

In addition,  there’s a video of an owl purring while being petted.

The video is of a cute owl upside down on its owner’s lap, just purring away.

What Are Some Of The Common Vocalizations Or Sounds Made By Owls Besides Purring?

Owls make a variety of vocalizations and sounds for different reasons.

Here are some common vocalizations or sounds made by owls besides purring:

  • Eastern Screech-Owl: This species makes a variety of sounds, including a trill, a descending whinny, and a soft, low hoot.
  • Great Horned Owl: This is the quintessential hooting owl of the United States, found throughout North and South America.

    They make a deep, resonant hoot that is often used in TV shows and movies.
  • Barn Owl: This species mainly relies on a set of high-pitched screams to communicate, either a k-r-r-r-r-ick to advertise itself to other members of its species, or a longer, more forceful shriek to signal distress or a warning.
  • Burrowing Owl: These owls make cooing, warbling, rasping, screeching, clucking, and rattling noises.

    A common noise is a two-note cooing that sounds like a quail that males use when defending territory and looking to attract a mate.
  • Elf Owl: Male elf owls sing at night, emitting a series of 5 to 7 yapping notes in descending pitch towards the end.

    Calls frequently heard from this owl are a high whistle peeu noise made during the nesting season and a sharp cheeur alarm call.
  • Short-eared Owl: This species makes a variety of sounds, including a deep, booming hoot, a harsh bark, and a high-pitched whistle.

    They also use wing clapping to advertise their territory or impress a mate.
    In addition to these sounds, owls also perform beak snapping and hissing.

Are There Specific Species Of Owls That Are Known To Purr, Or Is It A Characteristic Found Across All Owl Species?

There is no evidence to suggest that purring is a characteristic found across all owl species.

While owls are known for their impressive hoots, their language consists of a multitude of sounds, including yelps, whistles, barks, and beak snaps, just to name a few.

Different owl species have distinct calls that they use to communicate with each other and to warn away potential threats.

For example, the Great Horned Owl is known for its gravelly hoots that carry far and sound almost like a muffled foghorn from a distance.

The Burrowing Owl is not particularly vocal but makes cooing, warbling, rasping, screeching, clucking, and rattling noises.

The Eastern Screech-Owl is known for its trilling and whinnying calls.

Therefore, it is possible that some owl species may purr, but it is not a characteristic found across all owl species.

How Does Purring In Owls Differ From Purring In Cats Or Other Animals?

Purring in owls differs from purring in cats and other animals in several ways:
Purring in Cats:

  • Cat purring is a soft, deep, buzzing sound created by contractions of a cat’s laryngeal muscles, accompanied by a mild vibration.
  • Cats purr to express happiness, contentment, and relaxation.
  • Kittens learn to purr a few days after they are born and often use purring to form a bond with their mother.
  • Cats may also purr when they are injured or in pain, as purring has been suggested to have healing properties such as strengthening and repairing bones, relieving pain, and aiding in wound healing.
    Purring in Owls:
  • Owls do not purr in the same way that cats do.

    They do not have laryngeal muscles that can produce a purring sound.
  • Instead, owls make a variety of vocalizations such as hoots, screeches, and trills to communicate.
  • Some species of owls, such as the Eastern Screech-Owl, may produce a soft, rhythmic sound called a “trill” that is similar to purring in cats.
  • The purpose of the trill in owls is not fully understood, but it may serve as a communication signal between owls or as a way to express relaxation or contentment.
    Purring in Other Animals:
  • Purring is not exclusive to cats and owls.

    Some other species in the Felidae family, such as bobcats, cheetahs, and lynx, also purr.
  • However, studies have shown that larger big cats like lions, tigers, and leopards do not exhibit true purring.
  • Purring in different species of animals may have different frequencies and patterns.

    For example, the frequency of purring in cheetahs and domestic cats varies slightly.

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