Hollywood Loves To Use Minnesota + Wisconsin Bird’s Call, Sometimes Incorrectly
I apologize in advance. This is going to forever change your movie-watching experience. It did for me. I had no clue how many times Hollywood has used the loon call in movies and TV shows. Most of the time they don't make any sense, like in the jungle of Vietnam.
So, in case you didn't know, Minnesota's state bird is the common loon. It's not as common as Hollywood moviemakers think, however. The loon is really only found in North America, and for half of the year only in the Northern States with plenty of water. That's why Minnesota works out so well for the loon's habitat. The loon also can be found across Canada and Alaska.
Loons do migrate south to coastal states in the winter. But that's about it. They don't appear in deserts, jungles, or distant planets.
It came up in conversation this last weekend with friends that the loon was used incorrectly in Oliver Stone's famous Vietnam Blockbuster 'Platoon.' They used multiple bird noises in a jungle scene, and the original cut has several loon calls being used in the deep Vietnamese jungle. Ope!
I spent quite some time researching this when I stumbled on a YouTube video from Vox, who last year shared a bunch of examples of this 'creepy' bird being used in Hollywood films. They actually took the time to map out the places where loons have been used in Hollywood films. The orange places are where the loon actually is native. The rest, not so much!
Then, they tell us the loon call was used in the movie 1917. That movie was set in World War I in Europe, where they don't have loons either. You can hear the loon call when they first enter the enemy trenches.
Wait a minute!? It was used in Harry Potter too? Yep in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban! You'll hear the call right as they climb out of the Whomping Willow.
How did I never notice in Marvel's Infinity Wars that you can hear a loon call when Thanos returns home to his planet? My mind was blown. You can hear it in this clip here.
The loon also has been used in The Walking Dead, which would make sense if they were more in the Northern area of North America. Most of the show takes place in the summer in the south, where loons aren't.
According to the video from Vox, which I tend to agree with, Hollywood uses the loon when they want to sound creepy or set the mood. The loon wail is a haunting sound. People from Minnesota correlate the sound of a loon to a peaceful day on the lake, normally. But people who only know the bird from its call in Hollywood may find it really creepy.
There's also been a strange movement in using loons in music. Multiple artists have featured loon calls in their songs. Who knew?