Ah, the poor loon. Its name is linked with being crazy. Insane. A lunatic. In reality, it's anything but nuts. Loons are water birds, diving for their meals in spacious lakes and using the water as a runway to take flight. There are five loon species in the world, with the common loon the most widespread in North America [source: Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center].
Common loons are actually pretty cool. They're strikingly attired in summer, sporting ebony heads and bodies covered with an attractive black-and-white pattern. (In winter, they change to a plain dove-gray and white.) Despite rather stocky bodies, they can zip through the air at incredible speeds; migrating loons have topped 70 miles (113 kilometers) per hour [source: Cornell Lab of Ornithology]. But perhaps their most impressive traits are their diving and fishing skills. They can submerge without a splash, and torpedo through the water to catch their prey, gracefully incorporating abrupt 180-degree turns as needed.
So why the "crazy" tag? Common loons have several types of calls, including wails, yodels and tremolos. The tremolos and yodels in particular sound a bit like maniacal laughter, while their signature, eerie, wail sounds hauntingly insane.