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Why Hollywood loves this creepy bird call

Once you hear it, you can’t unhear it. Sorry!

If you’ve seen any remotely creepy movie, you’ve heard a loon wail: that mournful, nearly human ooo-ooo-oooo, that can sometimes be mistaken for a coyote or a wolf. For decades, it’s been popping up whenever a movie needs to convey melancholy or trepidation, often accompanied by a full moon or some fog. But for the most part, loons have no business being in the background of those scenes.

With the help of some internet birders, we took a deep dive (pun intended) into the world of loons to explain how Hollywood misuses this bird call — and why the wail is so haunting in the first place.

To learn more about loons and what you can do to help protect them and their native habitats, check out the Loon Preservation Committee and the Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation.

You can find this video and the entire library of Vox’s videos on YouTube.

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