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The Spooky Bird Call That Appears In Hundreds Of Hollywood Movies

Tom Wood

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The Spooky Bird Call That Appears In Hundreds Of Hollywood Movies

If you've ever been watching a horror movie and heard that weird bird sound that the sound editors seem to always use, you might just be about to learn a lesson here. In case you're not aware, check out the video below to hear what it sounds like:


It's not - as many people might think - an owl.

The bird is actually called a common loon, and it is now an unmistakable aural cue for all fans of spooky movies.


Coming up to Halloween, we might as well explain why that is.

Found in large numbers across North America, as well as in Scandinavia and some parts of Europe, the common loon is called so because it is currently registered as 'least concern' with regards to extinction.

The call itself is called a wail, and it's been used in films like 1917, Harry Potter, Game of Thrones and even Rick & Morty.

Whenever something spooky is about to happen, or people are wandering around in the dark at night, you'll hear the eerie wail of the common loon, which the birds actually use to figure out each other's location.


Basically, it seems as if the reason for its popularity is simple enough - it sounds quite spooky.

It invokes the idea of wolves, owls, and being alone with the eyes of only animals in the darkness staring at you.

Credit: Alamy
Credit: Alamy

Greg Budney, who was the audio curator for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in New York state, knows a thing or two about this sound.


After all, Cornell tends to be where Hollywood audio types go to get bird called.

Speaking to the Star Tribune, he explained: "Loon is definitely a popular sound,

"It seems like after [1981 film] On Golden Pond [the loon's] use as a sound effect increased. It appears in all kinds of films, from the African desert to the southwestern US."

He continued: "They're trying to elicit a particular emotional response from the audience.


"And the loon's wail, which is a contact behaviour, has a mournful quality, and that's often what they're going for."

Well, it's not just them either.

Credit: Alamy
Credit: Alamy

It was used on sample keyboards in the 1980s, as well as featuring in popular songs in the modern era such as Nicki Minaj's 'Anaconda'.


It gets about, basically.

Oh, and then there's the hundreds of New Age musical recordings that use the mournful tones of the loon.

Keep an ear out, and you're sure to come across it in some form or other eventually.

Let's hope that they're trying to capitalise on their success and getting a decent amount in royalties.

After all, they've certainly earned it.

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: TV and Film, Music, Interesting, US Entertainment, Weird, Hollywood, Animals

Tom Wood
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