Where was The Birds filmed?
Sonoma County, Northern California including Bloomfield, Bodega, Bodega Bay, and Valley Ford; San Francisco, Universal Studios, Universal City, Los Angeles County
American, NatureScapes, Contemporary, Schools/Colleges
Americana/Anywhere America, School, Van/Bus/RV Style
About The Birds
The Birds is set in Bodega Bay, California in 1952 and is loosely based on a novel written by Daphne du Maurier. The main character, Melanie Daniels, is a youthful socialite living in San Francisco. In the opening scene, Melanie stops by a pet store to purchase a mynah bird for a relative. She is introduced to Mitch Brenner (Rod Taylor) who mistakenly identifies her as an employee of the store. She good-humoredly plays along, encouraging him to purchase a set of lovebirds.
After taking down Mitch’s license plate number to try to discover where he lives, she returns to the pet store and buys the lovebirds which she tries to have brought to his apartment. Mitch’s neighbor (Richard Deacon) informs her that Mitch is out of town for the weekend, spending time with his family in Bodega Bay. Melanie travels to Bodega Bay and is directed by a shopkeeper to a local schoolteacher named Annie Hayworth (Suzanne Pleshette) who informs her of Mitch’s sister’s name. Annie was once a girlfriend of Mitch’s but ended the relationship due to his mother Lydia’s iciness towards her.
Melanie takes a rented boat across the bay to deliver the lovebirds to Mitch’s sister Cathy as a birthday present. Mitch notices Melanie leaving his home and travels to the opposite side of the bay to meet her. As the boat nears the dock, Melanie is attacked by a seagull that leaves a bleeding wound on her head.
Melanie meets Mitch at a restaurant and as they watch, seagulls swarm a gas station employee, leading to a gas leak and subsequent explosion. A fire begins to rage, and Melanie and other restaurant patrons rush out of the building. She flees to safety inside a telephone booth. Mitch helps her to get back inside the eatery where Melanie is blamed for the bird attacks since the locals have noted they only started with her arrival in town.
Mitch and Melanie travel to Annie’s home to pick up Cathy. Annie’s dead body is discovered outdoors, killed during her efforts to keep Cathy safe from the birds. Melanie is attacked and trapped. Though she is rescued by Mitch, she is left injured and in shock.
The decision is made to take Melanie to the hospital in San Francisco, but a group of birds gathers on the outside the home. The radio reports bird attacks in neighboring cities and indicates the military may be called to help. Cathy re-enters the home to fetch her lovebirds and gets in the car with Mitch, Lydia, and Melanie. They pull away from the scene with an immense flock of birds watching them in silence.
The Birds Locations
An intriguing film from the master of suspense movies, The Birds was directed by the legendary Alfred Hitchcock. The Birds production was accomplished through several innovative techniques that are now considered to be well ahead of their time. Among the tools Hitchcock used to achieve realistic expressions were real-life scenarios orchestrated to invoke fear.
The most critical scene of the film is reported to have been shot over a period of seven days. The effects on lead actress Tippi Hedren were so dramatic that she had to be hospitalized for a week afterwards to recover from severe exhaustion. For her role as Melanie Daniels, Hedren was awarded a Golden Globe for Most Promising Newcomer. It was her first film role.
Hitchcock has shared that Bodega Bay was his primary choice for filming locations for The Birds because “it is small, intimate, isolated, [and] colorful.” The locals who make this area their home was the ideal fit for the tone of the movie. The residents of Bodega Bay were quite pleased for The Birds to be filmed in their corner of the world since it carried with it the allure and excitement of the stars of the silver screen as well as an influx of tourist dollars to boost the local economy.
Two of Bodega Bay’s buildings feature prominently as The Birds filming locations: Potter Schoolhouse and the Tides Wharf and Restaurant. If you’re hoping to visit the locations of some of the best scenes in The Birds, here is our list of must visit destinations.
The role of Mitch Brenner was very nearly played by Cary Grant.
Melanie and Mitch meet at the pet store scene in The Birds
“Davidson’s Pet Shop,” Powell Street, Union Square, (exterior shots), San Francisco
One of the few funny scenes in The Birds takes place at the fictitious Davidson’s Pet Shop. If you’re hoping to visit The Birds location for the initial meeting between Melanie and Mitch, you’ll need to plan to make two different stops: Powell Street in San Francisco for the exterior footage and Universal Studios in Los Angeles County for the interior shots.
Melanie travels to Davidson’s Pet Shop on the hunt for a mynah bird for her beloved aunt. Mitch enters the store looking for lovebirds for his sister Cathy’s birthday. The two meet and engage in a flirtation with Mitch pretending not to know Melanie. Some banter ensues with Mitch finally yielding that he recognizes Melanie from court proceedings where she was charged for a practical joke gone awry. He says to her: “Don’t you remember one of your practical jokes that resulted in the smashing of a plate-glass window?” Melanie is angry at his original pretense, and Mitch leaves the store without making a purchase.
Universal Studios is easily accessed by subway, taxi, or passenger vehicle. To get to the Powell Street, Union Square location in San Francisco, you have lots of efficient transportation options including cable car and taxi.
Melanie meets Annie Hayworth scene in The Birds
Bodega Bay, California
The town of Bodega Bay itself features very prominently in The Birds. Throughout the film, it is the setting for many different scenes from Mitch driving along the coast to Melanie stopping for information from a local shopkeeper. One of the most noteworthy scenes in the film is when Melanie meets Annie Hayworth for the first time. Seeking the name of Mitch’s sister, Melanie and Annie connect at her residence and the two engage in a discussion. Annie asks Melanie if she met Mitch on her drive from San Francisco along the coast road, and Melanie responds with a yes. Annie’s response is full of humor with a touch of bitterness, “I guess that’s where everyone meets Mitch.”
Located along the coast and only 50 miles outside metropolitan San Francisco, Bodega Bay was the ideal spot for shooting this film since it is a popular area for bird migration. An hour and a half’s drive from San Fran, you can reach Bodego Bay by ferry, bus, train, taxi, or car.
A swarm of birds gathers on the jungle gym behind Melanie scene in The Birds
Potter Schoolhouse, Bodega, California
One of The Birds film scenes that is the most memorable takes place when Melanie goes to pick up Cathy at school. As she waits in her vehicle, Melanie notes a huge flock of birds gather on the jungle gym behind her, observing her in silence. Melanie calls to Annie to warn her of the imminent attack and helps her to move the children to safety. It is during this scene that Melanie yells to Annie, “They’re coming! They’re coming!” to alert her to the danger ahead.
Potter Schoolhouse rose to notoriety when it was selected as one of The Birds film sets. The movie lists the location of the school as Bodega Bay, but it is actually nestled in Bodega proper and is found a little further from the shore than depicted in the film. The facility was built in 1873. Today, Potter Schoolhouse is private property and is considered to be a national landmark. Tours of the building are not permitted; however, the building can be seen directly from the street.
To visit this iconic The Birds location, travel along Highway 1 until you reach Bodega Highway. After half a mile of travelling, you can take a right hand turn onto Bodega Lane where the schoolhouse can be seen at the summit of the hill.
Melanie and Mitch take cover at the Tides restaurant scene in The Birds
Tides Wharf and Restaurant, Bodega Bay, California
After rescuing Melanie from the phone booth, Mitch and Melanie take cover in the Tides Wharf and Restaurant in Bodega Bay. Here, many frightened diners are puzzled and panicked about the birds and their attack on the town. A diner blames Melanie, noting that the bird attacks began when she came to visit. She says to Melanie: “Why are they doing this? Why are they doing this? They said when you got here the whole thing started. Who are you? What are you? Where did you come from? I think you’re the cause of all of this. I think you’re evil. EVIL!”
The Tides Wharf and Restaurant was once a popular restaurant in Bodega Bay. Today, this iconic landmark has undergone a large expansion and has reinvented itself as a hotel. There is little to see in the region anymore. The town has since evaporated, leaving only the hotel as its occupant.
Found just off Coast Highway 1, Bus 95 has a stop that takes you to the site of the former Tides Wharf and Restaurant now known as the Tides Inn.
Annie is found dead scene in The Birds
Annie’s residence next door to the Potter Schoolhouse, Bodega, California
After Annie rescues Cathy from the schoolhouse, they return to her home. Upon hearing the sounds from the explosion, Annie opens the front door to investigate and is attacked and killed by birds. Melanie and Mitch go looking for Annie and find her dead outside her home. They find Cathy who relates the tale of Annie saving her by saying, “All at once the … the birds were everywhere. All at once. She … she pushed me inside and … they covered her. Annie. She pushed me inside.”
Now a private residence, you can only view Annie Hayworth’s home from the road which is accessed from Bodega Lane just off Bodega Highway.
Melanie is attacked scene in The Birds
Brenner Residence, West Side Road, Bodega Bay, California
Melanie, Lydia, Mitch, and Cathy take refuge in the Brenner residence, boarding up all the windows and doors for protection. Thinking they are safe, Melanie ventures upstairs to explore the source of a noise. She discovers the birds have broken their way through the roof and is attacked and trapped in a closet, sustaining serious injury. Mitch rescues a nearly lifeless Melanie and insists she be taken to the hospital. Lydia tries to argue it may not be safe, but Mitch retorts, "We have to try...We can't stay here, she needs help."
Found on West Side Road in Bodega Bay, the property that once housed the Brenner Ranch is now vacant land that is part of the Bodega Marine Laboratory and Marine Reserve. Most of the residence was built by the production company specifically for the film.
It is Mrs. Bundy, the aged ornithologist who utters the statement that perfectly sums up this movie. She says, “I have never known birds of different species to flock together. The very concept is unimaginable. Why, if that happened, we wouldn't stand a chance!” This innovative and beautifully shot film travels through many scenic villages throughout the California coast.
Though the movie does not stand the test of time when compared with our current technological advancements, it still stands as a testament to some of the most creative and complex cinematography of the era. If The Birds tops your list of favorite movies, why not plan a trip to check out some of the most beloved locations featured in this classic film?