Shrieks in the Forest

Barn Owl, Kent, UK. Photo by Lee Elvin

Forests can be a spooky places. Even during the day, the trees can block out the light and there is a real chance to become lost. But a forest would be all the more scary if blood curdling shrieks came out of nowhere. In Sri Lanka, there are stories of Ulama, a devil bird whose hideous cry is portentous of death. [ref] [/ref] The Ulama is meant to be the spirit of a grief stricken mother whose child was murdered by her husband in the most horrific way. Meanwhile, in Irish mythology, a banshee is the spirit of a woman whose wail or scream is a harbinger of death. The name, banshee derives from old Irish and means ‘woman of the fairy mound’ [ref] [/ref] a reference to the mysterious earthen structures that dotted the Irish landscape. Now, when a person was far from home and suddenly heard screeching and screams on a dark night, it would be terrifying. But there might be a less fantastical source for the screeches. There are multiple theories for what creature makes the cry of the devil bird. While numerous birds have been suggested, in 1968 research by Dr. R.L. Spittel suggested… Continue reading