In Alfred Hitchcock's 1963 thriller, "The Birds," Bodega Bay, California, is inexplicably besieged by crazed birds. After the birds attack and kill several residents, the townspeople flee in terror. We never find out why the birds became deranged, but research may give Hitchcock's film some scientific credibility. After a flock of disoriented Sooty Shearwaters swarmed Monterey Bay in 1961, poisoning was suspected. When a flock of confused and dying pelicans came ashore in the same area in 1991, scientists found actual evidence of poisoning that causes confusion, seizures, and death in birds. Maybe Hitchcock's movie isn't so far-fetched, after all . . .
Hitchcock’s The Birds
Written by John Kessler
Good evening. This is BirdNote. And we’re going to the movies!
[Clip – "They’re attacking again! Come on!”] [bird sfx under]
It’s Alfred Hitchcock’s 1963 thriller, “The Birds.”
The small California town of Bodega Bay is unexplainably besieged by crazed flocks of birds. After the birds attack and kill several residents, the townspeople flee in terror.
“Bunch of crows attacked the schoolkids.
It’s the end of the world…
…Cover your faces! Cover your eyes!"]
We never find out why the birds became deranged, but research from 2011 does give us food for thought. After a flock of disoriented Sooty Shearwaters swarmed Monterey Bay in 1961, poisoning was suspected.
But when a flock of confused and dying pelicans came ashore in the same area in 1991, scientists found evidence of poisoning. In 2011, a study published in the journal Nature Geoscience reported that the pelicans had eaten fish laden with a neurotoxin produced by plankton. These toxins contained – quote – "a nerve-damaging acid, which causes confusion, seizures and death in birds."
So maybe, just maybe, Hitchcock’s movie isn’t so far-fetched, after all…
For BirdNote, I’m Michael Stein
[Clip – they’re coming, they’re coming!]
Waves recorded by John Kessler.
BirdNote’s theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Dominic Black
© 2014 Tune In to Nature.org December 2016/2019 Narrator: Michael Stein
ID#: hitchcocka-01-2012-12-11 hitchcocka-01b