Horror movies have been using spooky nature sounds to scare the bejesus out of us for decades. Whether it’s a crash of thunder on a stormy night or a wolf howling at the moon, the great outdoors are full of unsettling noises that set your teeth on edge.
Here are seven of the creepiest sounds you’ll hear when you’re out in the wilderness (or even safe and cozy at the cottage). They may be beautiful in certain contexts, but they’re terrifying on a dark, moonless night.
1. Bats screeching
Video courtesy of stasia moorfield
Bats emit high-pitched shouting sounds as they fly, and the returning echoes let them “see” their prey in the dark. This echolocation is pretty neat, but it doesn’t make their calls any more enjoyable. Maybe it’s because we’ve watched too many vampire movies, but these flying mammals are forever tied to the idea of monsters and things that go bump in the night.
2. Crow caws
Video courtesy of Little Thomas Boy
These intelligent birds can mimic all kinds of sounds—including, creepily, human voices. Their loud, shrill caw is often used to signal that a horror movie heroine is in a bad spot. The call will send shivers down your spine, especially if you’re trying to keep the birds out of your garden, and away from your pumpkins.
3. Crash of thunder
Video courtesy of The Mush lol
Every spooky story begins with “it was a dark and stormy night” for a reason. While thunderstorms over the lake can be quite the impressive sight, the sound of thunder when you’re home alone can make you jump. Even our poor pups are scared of thunder!
4. Owls hooting
Video courtesy of Deanna Beutler
The owl hoot you probably associate with spooky nights is that of the great horned owl. Their gentle call of ‘who who’ is beautiful at dusk, but eerie on a windy night around All Hallows’ Eve. Plus, there’s the whole being able to turn their heads all the way around thing—that’s just unsettling.
5. Trees creaking
Video courtesy of lookseeseen
The sounds of trees creaking as they sway in the wind can make you think that something much more sinister is just outside your door. Maybe it’s that the sound can be mistaken for squeaking floorboards, something we’ve all heard in horror movies, but that odd, high-pitched sound is just freaky.
6. Howling wind in the woods
Video courtesy of SciShow
This unsettling sound is actually created as wind tries to curve around obstacles, like trees. The air splits, and when it comes back together it is often going at different speeds, which ends in a kind of “invisible wrestling match”. The different airstreams interact back and forth, causing vibrations, which we hear as ghostly howling.
7. Coyote howl
Video courtesy of MFK GameCalls
While they may not be as intimidating as the Big Bad Wolf, a chorus of coyote howls is still scary. In the video above, you can see that any pack animal surrounding you is no fun, even if they’re not as intimidating as a bear. Better to play it safe and to stick indoors if you hear a whole pack howling at the moon.