During Minnesota Public Radio’s pledge drive, I listened to tapes in the car, including the "Stokes Field Guide to Bird Songs," which was borrowed from the Duluth Public Library.
Listening to those bird songs at this season of the year made me think what a great soundtrack some of them would be for the front porch when trick-or-treaters come on Halloween night.
One would have to be selective. The songs of chickadees and goldfinches aren’t going to produce shivers up any spines no matter how dark it is outside. But it’s astonishing how many bird songs, if you don’t know what they are, sound mysterious and otherworldly. The offer perfectly creaky, creepy sounds — as long as you edit out the voice of the fellow who’s telling you what they are.
My favorite was the Atlantic puffin, which sounded like a cross between a very heavy, ancient door slowly opening in a very spooky house and labor pains of a very large mammal. The Stokes guide describes it this way: "A low growling ‘urrrrrr’ that rises then drops in volume and pitch is given from burrow during breeding (has been compared to the sound made by a chainsaw)"
I rest my case.
By the way … I suppose we all think of owls when it comes to Halloween. But I think the group of birds with the perfect name for Halloween are boobies. You’ve got your brown booby, your red-footed booby, and — best of all — your masked booby. If you want to see a booby, you’ll probably have to travel. In the U.S., they are almost exclusively birds of the southern coasts.