mountain lion's chirping

Bet You've Never Heard a Mountain Lion Chirp Like This

We're betting you've never heard a sound like this mountain lion's chirping before, or if you have, you never imagined it coming from a cougar.

A trail camera captured a mountain lion making some pretty unusual vocalizations (to us humans, at least). The camera looks as though it was set on a rocky escarpment, and the scene begins with a lion entering the frame from the left. It looks out into the distance on the right, when suddenly it "chirps" or squeaks.

That's right, the big cat makes a sound like a mouse or a small bird.

It's almost shocking, as most of us layfolk unfamiliar with the nuances of mountain lions probably assume that they shriek and growl like, well, like lions. That's the stuff we learned from virtually every movie showing mountain lions about to attack.

It turns out that there's a whole lot more to cougar vocalizations than many of us realized.

Mountain lions actually have a variety of vocalizations. Few of these are heard by humans, which makes sense since humans don't often see the secretive big cats in the wild anyway.

Cougars have a differently shaped larynx than that of African lions or tigers. Therefore they can't roar like their cousins. They can shriek, which is the sound that most people are familiar with. But they can also purr, meow, hiss, spit, scream, growl and, yes, chirp. This mountain lion's chirping is apparently a sound that mothers and their young use to locate one another.

You can hear it continue to chirp or squeak as it moves out of the picture frame and walks further away from the camera. Obviously the cat is searching for its mother or siblings. In any event, it's a surprising call, one not often heard.

Like what you see here? You can read more great articles by David Smith at his Facebook page, Stumpjack Outdoors.