Like The Wail of Banshee: The Screech-Owl’s Mournful Call

This post is a little off-topic, but I ran across this article from 1912 and it was oozing with spooky atmosphere. I thought you may like it, so I decided to post it for your enjoyment. I took this article from The Daily Ardmoreite in Ardmore, OK. It was published on Sunday, August 4, 1912.


LIKE THE WAIL OF BANSHEE

Mournful Cry of the Screech-Owl
Heard In Youth, Plainly Recalled
In After Years.

From the orchard, too, on an autumn midnight, comes the mournful whistle of a screech-owl. Most of us who have heard the screech-owl at all have heard its call drifting down from an old orchard on a frosty October night. The chill of coming winter, the cattle stamping in dark stables, a dim and ghostly world stretching over garnered fields to the mystery of the woods, and a gnarled, ancient orchard up the slope seem phantomlike under a waning moon- these are the setting for the screech-owl’s mournful whistle. I can at this moment shut my eyes, reproduce that whistle In my throat, and bring back to memory as if it were yesterday, the scene as my boyhood eyes saw it from my chamber window, whence I peeped with frosted breath before diving into bed, and I can actually smell (for all the tobacco smoke in my present study) the peculiar odor of the cold October night air, and feel again a vague, almost terrifying melancholy chill in my heart as, In the darkness, I heard from the orchard that reiterated whoo-oo-oo-oo. Like the whip-poor-will on the pasture rail on a hot evening of July, this other night-singer of New England seems to dwell just on the skirts of human habitations and to keep our souls reminded of the sadness of the world.

 – Walter Prichard Eaton, in Harper’s Bazar.