"I heard a squinch owl that night"
Spooky the Screech Owl
Public DomainSpooky the Screech Owl - Credit: Louis Agassiz Fuertes

Squinch owl is a dialect term for screech owl, a small, compact bird with reddish-brown colouring and distinctive ear-tufts. Unlike the low, melancholy hooting of most common owls, screech owls emit a high-pitched trill. Such sounds, particularly heard at midnight, were thought to auger death or evil — a belief which seems to crop up wherever the bird is to be found, and one which was certainly held by Native and African Americans. Superstition also links screech owls with night-demons, ghouls and vampires.


Illustration from
Public DomainIllustration from "the Natural History of Carolina" - Credit: Mark Catesby