Correlation or Causation?

We have a mystery on our hands, and I’m hoping one of you out there can help us solve it. This morning at 6AM the strangest sound woke Ian and me up. It was clearly coming from the woods on our side of the house. I’ve been visiting New Hampshire for 20+ years and have never heard a sound quite like it. Fortunately, I brought my H2 sound recorder and, since the sound lasted 45+ minutes, was able to capture it. Want to hear for yourself?

As I crouched in the window recording the sound, I noticed a mid-size porcupine ambling along the edge of the woods. He/she seemed to be searching for something–food? mate? It wasn’t in any particular hurry, but it was fun to see it raise up a bit on its hind legs and mash some Virginia Creeper into the ground with its front paws. It also sniffed around some of the ferns, almost like a dog searching for a place to mark. The porcupine did not stick around as long as the sound. I had to choose between grabbing my camera and telling Ian to look out the window. Difficult choice. My mother will be proud that I chose to put my mom hat on rather than my shutterbug hat. But it means that I have no photo for this post.

Up until I saw the porcupine, I thought the sound was some kind of strangled duck or a gigantic frog. But I’ve never heard what porcupines sound like–had never seen one in the wild until today. I played the sound for my in-laws (who have lived here 40+ years), but they’d never heard it either. There was certainly a correlation between the sound and the appearance of the porcupine, but he/she didn’t seem to be the cause of the sound. So I’m asking any mammalogists, ornithologists, & herpetologists out there: what made that sound?

(P.S. I’ll send a free book to the first person that gives me an answer that turns out to be accurate.)

Cheers, ~Jessi

Exchange of the Day

As Ian ate his dry Cheerios, Grampa asked: Don’t you want to put some milk on that and microwave it?

Ian’s reply: No. I’ve never eaten porcupine.

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