Dying and disoriented seabirds rammed themselves into homes across California’s Monterey Bay in the summer of 1961, sparking a long-standing mystery about the cause among marine biologists. The avian incidents sparked local visitor Hitchcock’s interest, along with a story about spooky bird behavior by British writer Daphne du Maurier.
“I am pretty convinced that the birds were poisoned,” says ocean environmentalist Sibel Bargu of Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. She led a team finding that naturally occurring toxins appear to have been the culprit.
In a Hitchcock-style twist, therefore, leaky septic tanks installed amid a housing boom around Monterey Bay in the early 1960s perhaps led to the poisoned birds plummeting from the air in 1961. And they inspired a film that scared the bejabbers out of filmgoers worldwide two years later, one ranked among the American Film Institute’s Top 10 thrillers of the last century.
Source: USA Today
Scientists found that the neurotoxin was inside the anchovies and squid which was ingested by the birds. It causes confusion, seizures and death. Similar bird poisoning deaths have been documented. Fascinating investigative work that inadvertently inspired an iconic piece of fiction. Well, not so fictional…