I do my best stressing-out in bed. It’s my gift. Also, it makes me pretty much the greatest spouse ever, because what is sexier than a person who gets into bed at night and immediately begins crying and/or agonizing over a variety of unfixable and unhappy life circumstances? Nothing! ROAWR! Otto is a lucky, lucky man.
Fortunately for me, Otto is also a patient, patient man. Why, in the last year or so of… uh, challenges… Otto has even relented somewhat on his position about bedtime snuggling, now pretty much reflexively pulling me into a cuddle the moment I start fretting after the lights are out. (I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this, before, but if you don’t have yourself an Otto, you should get one. They are SWELL.)
So last night it was kind of par for the course: We got into bed, I called the dog up (she was hiding underneath, as she does), and as Licorice settled between us and Otto took my hand, two things happened. First, my brain began to race, because YAY FOR BEDTIME ANXIETY. Second, we heard a bizarre noise in the distance.
“What IS that?” I asked Otto, because Otto knows everything. (Also because he was the only other person there, and Licorice rarely answers me when I ask her stuff.)
Otto listened for a moment, then declared, “It’s just an owl.” We lay there, listening, and although it didn’t sound like a completely classic “WHO WHOOOO” kind of thing, that seemed logical. And it was kind of repetitive and soothing, if a little weird.
My favorite thing about where we live, actually, is that in the summer all of the frogs come up from the pond and have a massive frog orgy on our property every night. It’s like a white noise machine MADE OF FROGS. I find it very soothing, and I love falling asleep to the chirping and ribbiting when it’s frog season. But right now it’s February and generally in February the only outdoor symphony we get is the neighborhood feral cats fighting each other for dominance.
My point is that a weird little owl calling in the distance in February is kind of a nice distraction from the soundtrack of OH GOD THE SKY IS FALLING running through my head.
So that was all fine and dandy, and the dog snurfled one of those doggie-sigh-sounds she makes as she stretched out between us, and Otto was holding my hand and I was trying to relax…
… when the most horrifying noise I’ve ever heard came from RIGHT UNDER MY WINDOW (it seemed), about three feet from my head.
Otto and I both jumped, and the dog scrambled upright and cocked her head.
Now, that particular window faces the driveway of a neighbor’s house. That particular house is… how shall I put this? … not entirely drama-free, let’s say. It is not uncommon for us to be jolted awake in the wee hours as car doors slam and verbal altercations begin. So, you know, noise from that direction is normal. But this noise WAS NOT NORMAL.
I can’t even describe it. Imagine a turkey gobbling, a baby screaming, and the death moan of a wounded animal all wrapped up into one, warbling-shrieking-howling cacophony.
“WHAT IS THAT???” I scream-whispered to Otto. “THAT IS NOT AN OWL.” We continued listening, while Licorice began to whine. The noise paused, then resumed. It sounded close enough to be in the room with us. Have you ever heard cats fighting? It’s horrible and screechy, and also something with which we are very familiar. This was WORSE than that.
“I don’t know,” said Otto. “Maybe the neighbors are really drunk?” We giggled at this, as I would not put it past the neighbors to be really drunk, but still, this noise could not possibly be coming from a human.
“Is it a goose? A turkey?” I said, petting Licorice, who was still on high alert. “A drunk turkey??”
“A DRUNK CLOWN!” Otto declared, and we continued laughing, even though—I mean, I can’t speak for Otto, here, but I was REALLY freaked out.
“A drunk clown wrestling a cat that caught a turkey?” We continued speculating until the noise moved across the wall of the house towards the woods, and finally (blessedly!) stopped.
About three seconds later, Otto began to snore. But I stayed awake for another several hours to make sure no mutant screaming turkeys were coming to eat our faces off, because I CARE. (Ahem.)
This morning I did the only logical thing, which is that I drank several cups of coffee while wasting approximately two hours on Google searching for things like weird bird call sounds like cat yowling and Georgia animal noises nocturnal dying cat. I was making real inroads, too, and that’s important, because I knew that if I don’t figure out what it was I MAY NEVER SLEEP AGAIN.
In no particular order, I diagnosed our visitor with: being a peacock having a bad day, a combination of somewhat rare owls, several ruffed grouses, and then there was some weird kind of waterfowl that I was almost convinced HAD to be it, until I learned that said animal was both endangered and only native to Western Canada. Nothing was EXACTLY right, though.
And then I figured it out, somehow. I think it was on a page where someone was asking WHAT KIND OF HORRIBLE BIRD IS THIS and someone pointed out that it probably wasn’t a bird at all. In fact, now that I’ve shared my find with Otto, he agrees that the original “owl” probably wasn’t an owl, either.
It turns out that our howling-moaning-dying friend was most likely a fox (or maybe several foxes). If you listen to “strange fox sound” on that page, you’ll hear what made me think it had to be a turkey or a goose. The yips, distress call and “beautiful howl-like crying” (BEAUTIFUL??) match up with what we heard, too. I don’t know if it was one fox or several foxes, but I am relieved to know that we don’t have any drunken zombie turkeys.
In conclusion: nature is loud, confusing and also creepy.