Avian bloopers: My Cousin Vinny

Last night I was in the middle of a complicated dream when I was awakened by one of my favorite voices, that of the Eastern Screech Owl (Otus/Megascops asio).  It’s a beautiful, haunting call, thrilling to wake up to, even if it means never knowing the ending of your dream.

 The people responsible for sound tracks in films do not always give this small owl proper voice-over credit.  A serious blooper of this kind occurred in My Cousin Vinny.  Vinny had been sleep deprived ever since his arrival down South, where the noises of the small Alabama town would not let him get a good night’s rest.  Finally a stay in a woodland cabin offered the potential for a peaceful 8 hours, until the piercing voice of a screech owl made Vinny jump awake in wide-eyed consternation.

 Except the voice we hear in the film is not that of a screech owl.  It’s a barn owl!  The owl in the film was induced to open its mouth with bits of beef, and the voice was dubbed in later.  Apparently the sound editors just went to their collection of owl noises, found one that sounded screechy and threw it in.  

You can see the film clip in question here, listen to a screech owl here and a barn owl here.

2 Responses to “Avian bloopers: My Cousin Vinny”

  1. 1


    A while back, I mentioned coming face to face with a screech owl in the back yard – central NJ. Now I’ve heard, thanks to you, her call. It is, as you say, beautiful and haunting. Good you weren’t awakened by the call of a barn owl!

    – Fred

  2. 2

    Fred, that’s wonderful – I’m so glad you can enjoy that call. I must say, knowing what the sounds are that are part of the natural auditory landscape has enriched my life so much. And of course, it has brought many laughs as well, due to bloopers like this. I’ll be posting more in the future.

    By the way, not much chance of being awakened by barn owls, since they’re diurnal 🙂

    Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment, Fred!

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