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'The Birds' real-life mystery possibly solved

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The Birds Tippi Hedren
Everett Collection

I was 7 years old when my mother first made me watch Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. The second I saw Suzanne Pleshette’s eyes gouged out by a murderous bird on Bodega Bay, I became petrified of even the most harmless hummingbirds. I only became more frightened learning that the film was inspired by real-life events, when birds on Monterey Bay began mysteriously flying into buildings in the early 1960s. And then I became even more terrified a few days later when a bird flew into my window and died.

But it’s likely I no longer have to live with the fear that birds may one day attack my fabulous hairstyle like they did Tippi Hedren’s. For, according to USA Today, the mystery behind The Birds‘ real-life inspiration might have been solved. Ocean environmentalists told the publication that naturally occurring toxins were likely responsible for the birds’ strange behavior on Monterey Bay. Research found that toxins causing confusion, seizures, and death were found in 79 percent of the plankton consumed by the plagued birds. Where did the poison come from? Scientists are blaming leaky septic tanks installed during a “housing boom” in the mid-20th century.

So, since humans are responsible, I’m not totally convinced that the birds won’t somehow get revenge. (Be especially wary if one moves to the Hamptons and begins dating your wealthy son.) But for the time being, though, perhaps I’ll finally pick up a pair of those lovebirds I always wanted.

Follow Kate on Twitter @KateWardEW

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