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Why Hollywood loves this creepy bird call

Read Time:1 Minute, 27 Second

This is a fascinating video for movie fans or birdwatchers. And if you’re a birdwatching movie fan then this video is a must-watch. VOX explains the haunting call of the loon, and how it became an iconic, though oftentimes geographically inappropriate, background sound in movies to add a sense of foreboding.


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  • Hollywood frequently uses the distinctive call of the common loon in movies and TV shows to evoke feelings of moodiness, eeriness, or to highlight the great outdoors, despite the call being geographically misplaced in many scenes, ranging from deserts to jungles, and even on other planets.
  • Bird enthusiasts and experts often criticize the misuse of loon calls in entertainment, noting the inaccuracy of their placement in non-habitat appropriate locations and the oddity of using the call for birds that are not loons, highlighting a lack of attention to detail in representing natural scenes accurately.
  • The common loon, known for its diving ability and unique behaviors like penguin dancing and scooting across lakes, primarily inhabits lakes in Canada and the northern US, migrating to coastal areas in winter, which contrasts with its fictional appearances in various non-native settings.
  • The loon’s call, particularly the wail, carries significant cultural and emotional weight, interpreted as melancholy or haunting to human ears due to its unique sound properties, which include sliding between major and minor notes, similar to techniques used in blues and soul music.
  • Despite Hollywood’s overuse and geographical inaccuracies, the loon call’s powerful impact on audiences is undeniable, serving as a shortcut to evoke deep emotions and atmosphere in films and TV, while also bringing attention to the loon’s conservation needs due to threats like pollution, human disturbance, and climate change.
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2 responses to “Why Hollywood loves this creepy bird call”

  1.  Avatar

    Dammit… I can’t unhear that

    1. LOL. I guess that’s the point, right? 🙂

      On spring day I was outside talking to my mother. The birdcalls were all around us. I said, “You know, if you close your eyes and just listen, it sounds like a science fiction movie where a bunch of birds in the trees shooting laser guns at each other.” My mother thought about it for a second and said, “Great, now that’s all I’ll be able to think of when I hear bird calls.”

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