I went on a weeklong backpacking trip in the Sierra Nevadas and in the third or fourth night while we were camping next to the Kern River we heard this odd noise.

At around 5-10 PM we would here an exchange between two birds, one of them made a squawky noise and another would respond with a call that sounds like someone dragging a metal bowl across a rock. We would hear this strange noise throughout the night but it would stop in the morning.

We only heard this exchange whenever we were camped out near trees. In fact, I am not even 100% sure that what we heard was a bird call, but someone said it was likely because the noise would dart around the area quickly.

Does anyone know what could’ve made this noise?

TLDR; need help identifying an nocturnal animal that lives in the Sierra Nevadas that makes a noise that sounds like a metal bowl being dragged across a rock.

  • Very hard to answer. Did it sound like this?
    – user58697
    Jun 16, 2019 at 5:09
  • Unfortunately not, the sound was very metallic and a lot of my group mates thought it was some sort of bear, but that wouldn’t explain the speed at which it was moving (we would hear it really close and then 10 seconds later it would be far away). Jun 17, 2019 at 6:05

2 Answers 2


I know this is a stale question, but in my experience nighthalks are really only active just before and after nightfall and aren't very "nocturnal", kinda like bats. Owls, though, make all kinds of noises and hunt in pairs often enough that it sounds like a tactic. One "barks" and the other catches the prey sent its way and calls back, "got one, good job", or "do it again".


I am guessing a pair of barn owls? They make a lot of wild noises

Otherwise, perhaps a nighthawk? They squawk and use their wings to make a booming sound, which is can be very startling.

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