The sound of the bacurau

From ages 5 to 27 I lived on a big house with a huge (and I mean HUGE) backyard, full of fruit trees, big rocks to climb, lawn space to run, a tiny soccer field even, and of course a big variety of wild life.

The ones we saw more often were the animals that have daytime habits. But there were a few nocturnal out there too that also marked our lives in one way or another.

From those, we had opossums and bats who would eventually get inside the house. Porcupines that would fill out our dogs’ faces with quills right in the middle of the night, to wake us up and make us get up to pull each quill, one by one, with pliers (not sure here if the nocturnal was actually the porcupines or if the dogs who would get bored at night and go search for trouble).
But those were typically silent, when we don’t consider the noise and commotion created by the people and canines around them, and this post is about sounds.

The one that marked our lives for its sound was the bacurau.

Felipe Gomes authorises the use of the pictures by him published on the website calphotos.berkeley.edu under the licence Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5

Bacurau, a.k.a curiango or Nightjar in English, is a bird from the Caprimulginae family, which is characterized by being a nocturnal bird, that nests on the floor and has a singing that sounds like a repetitive scream that goes on in intervals all through the night.

I can’t tell exactly his habits and I don’t remember the part of the year he would come, but I do know it was not year-round.
What I do remember is that in the first year we noticed it, that repetitive sound would not allow us to sleep the whole night.

Wee-hoo — wee-hoo — wee-hoo — wee-hoo.

Sometimes, when we were getting home late at night, we would see his little shiny eyes reflecting our car’s lights, and then he would fly away to another spot nearby.
But his call could still be heard.

Wee-hoo — wee-hoo — wee-hoo — wee-hoo.

Then we got used to it.
And grew found of it.
And started depending on it to fall asleep.

Funny how something can at first not let us sleep all night, and then, after a while, it will actually induce sleep.

So then, by the time we were really depending on it, the opposite would happen. His season would be over and he would go away somewhere else, and then the silence of the night was what would not let us sleep.

And we missed the bacurau until he was back the next season and the whole process would start all over again.

Wee-hoo — wee-hoo — wee-hoo — wee-hoo.
Wee-hoo — wee-hoo — wee-hoo — wee-hoo.
Wee-hoo — wee-hoo — wee-hoo — wee-hoo.
Wee-hoo — wee-hoo — wee-hoo — wee-hoo.

For the call only, but not quite the same (there are several different species out there…)

For the call as I used the hear, as part of a Brazilian poetry

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2 thoughts on “The sound of the bacurau

  1. Your noticeable entry, with its description of a hidden nature,unknown to most of us,brought me back to my Brazilian years,long ago, and reminded me of the nocturnal ,misterious sounds that accompanied our nights. I appreciated the photos,too, and the great accuracy of your work……. Congratulations!

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