Weird Sound

Loudonville , OH(Zone 5b)

During the night last night I was awakened by something in my yard or the surrounding woods making loud Wu Wu, - Wu, Wu sound. It was a 2 tone call with the second Wu about one note higher than the I have never heard any call like it.
It wasn't the hoo like an owl. There was a definite W sound. Anyone have any ideas? --

Algonquin, IL(Zone 5a)

Hi slvrwilo,

Try going to this link to see if the Barred Owl in the video sounds like what your hearing. You'll have to click on the video for the Barred Owl since there are other nocturnal critters listed as well. Then wait a bit to get past the other types of sounds. Eventually there is a Woo-woo type of call.

If that sounds like what you're hearing, I can direct you to some websites with bird calls that might confirm it.

Algonquin, IL(Zone 5a)

After posting the above link, I came across some other interesting info that I wasn't aware of. Raccoon kits will scatter up a tree or to another safe place when the mother detects danger or gets into a fight with another animal like a cat or other raccoon.

Once it's safe again the kits will call out with what sounds like Whoop, Whoop, Whoop, Whoop to help the mother find them.

I haven't actually heard it. If I come across any audio or video I'll post it.

Loudonville , OH(Zone 5b)

Sorry but none of the owl calls were right. It was just a 2 note Call repeated over & over. Slowly.

Charleston, SC(Zone 9a)

As I read your description of the event, I, too, was reminded of the communications between a raccoon mother and her kits. I've had substantial interactions with raccoons over a period of nearly a decade and have been witness to the mother-kit communications many, many times. The 'whoop, whoop' sound described by Nuts above is spot on.

Upon hearing the sound for the very 1st time and having no prior knowledge of what to expect, I used the exact same words/spelling (whoop, whoop) to describe the sound to readers of my thread. The call begins with a definite and unmistakeable 'W' sound and consists of a quick 2 note 'whoop, whoop' which may then be repeated several times. It is not at all like an owl sound.

Moreover, this is the time of year when you would be likely to hear this sound in your area. Female raccoons breed in late winter or very early spring - around here it happens in Jan/Feb. Kits are born 9wks later, and begin going out foraging with their moms in about 2 mo, give or take week or so. So roughly 4mo after conception, tiny kits are out foraging with mom. Kits usually show up at my house for the 1st time in Apr/May, but as your warm season is much shorter than ours and your winters much colder, I would expect raccoons in your area to get their litters started earlier than ours so the youngsters will be big enough and strong enough in time to make it through the coming winter.

Even if you have never seen them before, if you live adjacent to or near a forest it is very likely that raccoons patrol your yard as part of their nightly foraging, a trek of 1 to 5 miles depending on the availability of food. In addition to the situation described by Nuts above, I have also witnessed the whoop, whoop exchange between mother & kit in the following situation:

The 1st time or two a raccoon mom takes her very young kits out foraging, she may elect to stash them in a tree at the forest edge while she goes into an adjacent yard to look for food - not wanting to expose them to the dangers of people and dogs on their 1st few outings. If she is gone very long, perhaps stopping to eat grubs or pet food, the kits may become frightened and may themselves use the whoop, whoop sound to call out to her (yes, I have most definitely observed kits making this sound, although it is more often associated with the mom). The mom will respond with the same sound, apparently to reassure them of her presence nearby.

I think it is very likely that the sound you heard was this raccoon call. Incidentally, raccoons, although normally as silent as a ninja, actually have an amazingly diverse verbal repertoire which includes even, on rare occasion, a 'bark' indistinguishable from that of a small dog. If I were to list the sounds I've heard them make, you would surely think I was joking. Thus if your yard is part of a raccoon route, you could possibly hear all manner of strange sounds.

Loudonville , OH(Zone 5b)

We have a very large (and very destructive) raccoon population. Several years ago I got tired of having all my flower boxes, hummingbird feeders, and patio cushions destroyed. We live trapped 14 raccoons and relocated them to the state forest. We released them in the same spot so they could find their family. If we trapped a lactating mother we did not relocate her so no babies would starve. It is illegal to trap & release in Ohio. If you catch them you are supposed to kill them. We almost got caught by the game warden several times. I haven't used my deck or flower boxes for several years so I am sure our raccoon census has increased. How do you keep them out of your planters?

Charleston, SC(Zone 9a)

Easy answer: I don't.

Over a decade ago when I 1st moved here, I tried everything I could think of to keep them out of my yard - well, everything except for trapping or violence, that is. They gobbled up all of my BOSS and swizzled the hummer food. They also broke the expensive feeders I bought to keep the squirrels at bay - yes, I was under attack from all directions: raccoons, squirrels, opossums, deer, you name it, even a giant peacock.

I eventually gave up and went with the "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" concept. No way I could trap my way through the entire forest. There is more to the story, of course, but eventually I gave up on feeding birds/hummers and started feeding raccoons instead. Not recommending you go that route, just the crazy route I took. Once I got to know the raccoons, I actually enjoyed them very much. But mine don't mess with lawn furniture, just bird feeders, which I got rid of.

The only problem I've had so far with them and my plants is that they (along with all of the other aforementioned critters AND the birds) eat any fruit I manage to produce from crab apples to grapes, strawberries, blueberries, and figs. I never made a huge crop of any of the fruit mentioned, so I just decided to let them have the handful of berries and such. They don't harm my flowering plants, didn't mess with my veggie garden in the distant past, and haven't bothered my current veggies so far - although that is a concern of mine. Not sure how I will deal with the situation if they start eat or destroying my garden veggies, but from past experience I know that trying to keep them out of my yard isn't likely to work - short of adding a few feet of razor wire to the top of the back fence, which probably won't work either.

Algonquin, IL(Zone 5a)


Thanks so much for your clarification of the Raccoon "calls" between the moms & kits. We see them occasionally at night, but they mind their manners and we've never had any problems with them.

Because we put out food during the day for the birds and squirrels, there's always some left over for the frequent deer & rabbits plus any opossums and raccoons that decide to stop by. I just spritz a little Liquid Fence on any plants I don't want eaten. This arrangement has worked out very well for years and brought us a lot of enjoyment.

I've seen your ongoing thread about your wonderful raccoon friends and have occasionally popped in a lurked a bit...very well written and enjoyable. I sometimes find I don't have a lot of time to spend on the computer so quite often I'll read, but keep my mouth shut.

Anyway, thanks again for your help. You taught me something new!

Charleston, SC(Zone 9a)

Thank you very much, nutsaboutnature!

What you said about the use of the 'whoop, whoop' sound was correct. I just extended it by adding an additional usage case based on my experience with them. There is another sound in the communications between raccoon mom & kit, a trilling sound made by the kits, apparently to summon the mom, especially when they are afraid. When the mom stashes her kits in a tree somewhere before advancing into a nearby yard in search of food, the kits are 'supposed' to be quiet so as not to reveal their location, but sometimes they get scared and start to call out either with the trilling sound or occasionally the whoop, whoop.

One last use I observed for the 'whoop, whoop' occurs when the kits get a few weeks older, more like the equivalent of 5yr olds (vs the toddlers the mom takes on the early outings). The grow incredibly fast, and after they have been foraging with their mom for several weeks, they sometimes become quite 'independent' minded, such that if the mom heads off to continue the nightly foraging rounds while one or more kit is still eating, the kit(s) may choose to stay behind instead of following her like they are supposed to do. When she reaches the forest edge, if the kit or kits are still not following her, she will stop and call out to the recalcitrant kit(s) with continuous rounds of 'whoop, whoop' until the missing kits get the message and follow her.

As you can probably tell, I truly enjoyed the time I spent observing all of the raccoons' interactions, whether with kits or peers. It was a fascinating and magical experience. Thanks again.

Charleston, SC(Zone 9a)


Something you said has continued to nag at me since I 1st read it, this because it just doesn't ring true for me. Not saying it can't be true, just that it doesn't match or fit with any of my observations to date. Upon 1st reading it, I dismissed my concerns, thinking different raccoon groups may behave differently. While it is, of course, true that just as all people are not identical, neither are all raccoons, as the day wore on my difficulty with the particular bit of information in question only seemed to grow.

The thing I had difficulty with was the idea that the raccoons were destroying seat cushions on outdoor furniture. This just doesn't fit with my observations - again, NOT saying it can't be true. I was wondering, have you actually seen the raccoons doing this? I ask this because over the years I have often been known to blame 1 species, usually the one I've seen around, with the actions of another, most often one that shows up later in the night when I'm not around to see it. For example, for years I blamed the squirrels for all of the feeder damage and lost food. I had seen the squirrels on the feeders eating many times, so I assumed they were the ones doing all of the damage/eating when, in fact, the raccoons were eating the lion share at night and doing most of the damage. Another example: I thought the raccoons were eating certain items I put out, but I later learned that the items in question were actually being eaten by opossums who showed up so late at night that I had, up 'til then, never seen them.

I don't actually have outdoor cushions, so I could be very wrong about this. I do, however, have lots of stuffed animals that I keep outside for the raccoons to play with, mostly for the kits but I have seen adult raccoons play with them, too, esp yearlings. The thing is, even though they play with the plush toys a lot and even carry them around the yard, I've never seen any signs of damage on a single toy. I figure there is a degree of similarity between cushions and plush toys, both being stuffed items covered in fabric of some kind. The plush items I have out there for the raccoons range from the usual faux fur types to those covered in things like burlap, canvas, and even faux leather.

I started interacting with the raccoons in 2006, and the 2006 plush toys are still out there in the backyard. They are wet, muddy, nasty, etc but have no holes, no stuffing hanging out, nothing of that sort, not even after all these years. The only one I have ever seen damaged was the one I ran over with the lawn mower because I didn't see it in the grass.

Like I said before, I could totally be wrong about this. I certainly don't know everything there is to know about raccoons by any means, and, like I said, I don't have outdoor cushions and thus cannot truly know if the raccoons here would destroy them. I have read that pet raccoons will destroy upholstered furniture, but that is a very difficult situation. When a pet raccoon does this I figure they are either trying to transform furniture into a bed that is to their liking or acting out due to the stress of confinement. When a wild raccoon enters your yard, the last thing they are interested in is making a bed. They want to find food, eat it, and leave as quickly as possible in order to get back to the safety of the forest.

While I was out grocery shopping today, I started thinking about this, wondering, if the raccoons aren't the culprit, who else might be. The creature that comes to mind as being the most likely offender is the rat. Don't freak out. Just as raccoons are likely to visit your home, so are outdoor rats and mice. In fact, rats are particularly attracted to bird food. Many people here at DG have had to give up feeding the birds for this very reason - myself included. I was looking out my great room windows one day at the strange looking 'squirrel' on one of my feeders, when I suddenly realized that squirrel was a rat. It was just sitting up there munching away.

A few years later, I had to take my car to the mechanic because the AC wasn't working and the engine didn't sound right. I had been leaving my car in the driveway, and it turned out a rat had made a nest under the hood and had chewed up the wiring harness, shorting out wires, and ultimately frying the cars main computer. I was mortified, but the mechanic told me they frequently get high dollar cars from our most exclusive barrier islands brought in due to even worse and more extensive rat damage. I never saw any sign of rats indoors, but I read that if they stayed here long enough they would eventually make there way inside. That plus the arrival of the copperhead who came to dine on the rats, was my cue to get rid of the feeders and the rats.

Anyhow, just something to think about in case you haven't actually seen a raccoon chomping on a cushion. If you live near a forest and offer bird seed, there is also a good chance that you have rats in and around your yard, attracted to the birdseed. Unlike raccoons, rats LOVE to chew on things. They chew constantly, on pretty much anything. They HAVE to chew. Otherwise, their teeth, which grow at an alarming rate, would grow through the top of their mouths killing them. They chew wires like in my car and in the walls and attics of homes. They also chew fabric and steal stuffing to make beds for their babies - and they have an unbelievable number of litters per year, so they need a LOT of stuffing.

Charleston, SC(Zone 9a)

I forgot to mention earlier that their is a product you can apply to things to deter raccoons. I'm told by a former DGer and friend (who worked in animal control & also raccoon rehab) that this product is very effective against raccoons. It won't keep them out of your yard but should keep them from messing with your cushions. You can also use it on plants, but NOT on anything you plan to eat. I think she may have said that it would make the plant taste terrible as opposed to being toxic. I believe that is how it works to keep raccoons, and I think other animals as well, from messing with things. I think the name is Ropel but will check on that. Weather the cushion culprit is actually the raccoons or something else, this should probably solve that problem.

Dover AFB, DE(Zone 7a)

This is the best place that I've found to identify critters sounds.

Loudonville , OH(Zone 5b)

Thanks Juney. That is a great website. However I played every sound it could possibly be and a lot that it couldn't be but still haven't come anywhere close to the sound I heard. I haven't heard it since that one time. I found it interesting that there were no owl sounds on the list.

Charleston, SC(Zone 9a)

The "whoop, whoop" wound is not among the raccoon sounds listed on that website. I played them all (the raccoon sounds) and found that most are very similar. That website is an excellent resource, but it really doesn't begin to cover the huge diversity in raccoon sounds. I spent a lot of time with 'my' backyard raccoons over the years, practically becoming part of the group for a few years. As a result, I was able to witness behaviors and sounds they probably don't usually reveal when people are around.

I still think that sound you heard was the "whoop, whoop" of the raccoon mom. It seems an all the more likely fit since you said that you do have a number of raccoon entering your yard. The fact that you concentrated on the distinct "W" sound in the call you heard (yet indicated it was not like an owl sound), plus the fact that this is the right time for raccoon moms to be out and about with young kits in tow, really sells it for me.

Unfortunately, your efforts to trap and relocate raccoons probably had little effect on the number of raccoons visiting your yard. There is a nearly endless number of them out there in the forest at large. For every one you removed, others from neighboring areas would have moved in to fill the void. There are just too many hungry raccoons out there to let any area stay uninhabited for long. Incidentally, I did appreciate your effort to relocate them humanely and, most of all, the fact that you avoided moving lactating females.

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