Study Guide

The Birds Summary

The Birds Summary

The Birds opens with … birds.

They're just not attacking anyone yet.

Rich and bored socialite Melanie Daniels is trying to buy a bird in a San Francisco bird shop. Mitch Brenner, a lawyer, mistakes her for a salesperson and asks her if he can purchase lovebirds for his sister's birthday. She goes along with the pretense, but it turns out he knows who she is. Mitch has seen Melanie in court and knows all about her party-girl lifestyle and fondness for pranks.

Translation: they're both lying to each other. Also—surprise!—they're flirting. That's what we call a meet-cute.

Melanie is not psyched about being tricked, but she kind of liked the flirting part. Mitch didn't get his lovebirds, so Melanie buys some and somewhat obsessively tracks Mitch down to his home in Bodega Bay, an hour or so drive up the coast. She takes a boat across the bay, does a little breaking and entering, and leaves the lovebirds inside with a note for Cathy, Mitch's sister.

So far, so good: a sweetly developing love story in a picturesque beach town.

Just don't get too comfortable. It's Hitchcock, after all.

Mitch sees Melanie leaving through the back door and boating back across the water. He drives around the bay to catch her and meets her again just as she's slammed by a seagull.

It's about time.

Mitch patches up her wound and invites her to dinner. She meets Mitch's nervous and clingy mom, Lydia, and Cathy (who's annoyingly saccharine, as kids in movies in 1963 tended to be). Cathy begs Melanie to attend her birthday party the next day, and she reluctantly agrees.

After dinner, Melanie spends the night at the home of Annie Hayworth, a local schoolteacher who has an extra room. Oh, Annie is Mitch's ex-girlfriend. Awkward. Annie's cool about it, though.

  

While they're having a drink and talking about Mitch, they hear a thud. A gull has crashed into Annie's front door and broken its neck.

You can see where this is going. As Hitchcock would say, "The Birds is coming."

At Cathy's birthday party the next day, crazed seagulls crash the party, terrifying the kiddos and breaking all of the balloons (the horror!). That evening, when Melanie is at Mitch's house, hundreds of sparrows pour down the chimney and attack everyone. The next morning, Lydia goes to a nearby farm to chat with Mr. Fawcett the farmer and finds him dead in his room, broken windows and dead birds everywhere. His eyes have been pecked out.

Yeah.

Lydia is freaked out by the bloody eye holes. She staggers out of the house, drives home somehow, and asks Melanie to check on Cathy at school. Sure enough, the crows are massing outside the school. She and Annie organize the kids to try to escape, and they all run down the road toward town, the crows attacking and pecking at the kids.

Enough horror for you yet?

The kids finally get to safety. Melanie goes to a local restaurant, where some of the townsfolk doubt whether the birds are really attacking. The birds helpfully answer them by attacking a gas station and precipitating a huge fire and explosion. Melanie and Mitch manage to escape the swarming birds and run to Annie's house to collect Cathy.

Guess what? You got it: Annie has been killed by the birds. (First dumped by Mitch, then killed by birds? It's not a good movie for that gal.)

Time to play defense. Melanie, Mitch, Lydia, and Cathy board up Mitch's house in hopes of staving off the next bird attack. They have some luck, though the birds are crafty, and Mitch has to fight them off as they try to break in. Eventually, the birds chill out for a bit, and everyone goes to sleep.

You didn't think that would last, did you?

In the middle of the night, Melanie hears rustling. She goes upstairs, violating the first rule of horror movies: never go exploring mysterious noises on your own. Sure enough, she discovers the birds have gotten through the attic roof, and she gets trapped in the room as they attack her. They rip her and her beautiful clothes to shreds. Mitch rescues her, but she's semi-catatonic from shock. Mitch decides they need to get her to a hospital in San Francisco. So, he goes out to get the car and finds birds … sitting quietly … everywhere.

Creepy.

A radio reports that Bodega Bay has been evacuated and that the birds are spreading to nearby communities. No one knows why the birds have suddenly gone crazy. Mitch, Melanie, Cathy, Lydia, and the lovebirds in their cage slowly drive away through all the birds.

In the end, Batman shows up, and there's a massive bat vs. bird battle for the skies.

Yeah, no. No bats, no heroes, no explanation. Just birds sitting and watching.

That's it.

  • Credits

    Credits

    • Even before the first scene, you get a taste of what's coming.
    • The credits sequence has eerie, flapping birds with weird, synthesized bird screeches.
    • The title credits appear and shatter like glass.
  • Scene 1

    Scene 1

    • The very blond and very rich Melanie Daniels is out walking in San Francisco.
    • Someone whistles at her (that's the first sign that sex and birds go together), and she looks up at a bunch of gulls flying overhead.
    • Foreshadowing alert.
    • She goes into a pet store. See the portly guy walking the dogs? That's Hitchcock in one of his cameos.
    • The store is full of caged birds. More foreshadowing.
    • Melanie goes up to the clerk and asks what all of the gulls are doing; the clerk says it's probably a storm at sea.
    • Melanie has ordered a mynah bird from the shop, and the clerk tells her it hasn't arrived yet. She tries to get Melanie to stay and wait for it, but Melanie is impatient and busy and snooty and says no way.
    • Mitch Brenner enters the shop, looking all suited and dashing.
    • Mitch mistakes Melanie for a clerk. They exchange a significant glance that says, "We are both incredibly attractive; sparks will now fly."
    • Melanie decides to pretend to be a clerk. She helps Mitch find a pair of lovebirds for his 11-year-old sister.
    • They banter, as Mitch asks her questions and Melanie tries to pretend she knows anything at all about birds.
    • Melanie tries to show him a canary, but it gets away from her and flies around the shop. Mitch catches it.
    • Then, he reveals that he knows Melanie because he's a defense attorney, and he saw a case in court in which one of her pranks caused the destruction of a window.
    • Mitch is condescending; Melanie is irritated.
    • It must be love.
    • After Mitch leaves, Melanie runs downstairs after him and gets his license plate number.
    • Melanie calls the newspaper (which her dad owns) and gets them to track down the license plate for her.
    • Melanie then asks the store owner for lovebirds, to be delivered the next morning.
  • Scene 2

    Scene 2

    • Melanie is walking down the street carrying the lovebirds.
    • She takes them up in an elevator, where some balding guy is giving her and the birds the once-over.
    • She puts them at Mitch Brenner's apartment door with a note.
    • The guy stops her before she can leave and tells her Mitch won't be back at his apartment until Monday. He spends weekends at Bodega Bay with his mom and sister.
    • The guy looks at her and the birds significantly. He assumes the birds mean Melanie and Mitch have a thing.
  • Scene 3

    Scene 3

    • Melanie drives up the coast to Bodega Bay.
    • You may be saying, hey, nothing much is happening yet in this film. Who cares about the stupid lovebirds? Where's the horror?
    • You'd have a point; lots of critics feel that The Birds gets off to a slow start.
    • Still driving.
    • Still driving.
    • Finally, Melanie gets out of the car and goes into the post office to ask where Mitch lives.
    • There follows a conversation that goes on forever and ever, designed to provide a logical reason for Melanie to go across the bay to the Brenner house in a boat because Hitchcock thinks that will let him set up some nifty shots.
    • You also learn that Melanie is trying to deliver the birds as a surprise gift to Mitch's sister.
    • The post office clerk is pretty taken with Melanie. She seems used to people thinking she's pretty.
    • Anyway, there's more nattering. The clerk and a visitor can't seem to agree on Mitch's sister's name. Melanie wants to put it on the card.
    • The clerk sends Melanie to Annie Hayworth's house. Annie is the schoolteacher, and she'll definitely know Mitch's sister's name.
  • Scene 4

    Scene 4

    • Melanie drives to Annie's house. Annie is dressed in a sweater and has been working in the garden; Melanie is in a very fancy fur coat and heels.
    • That's the difference between the big city and the country, there.
    • Annie tells Melanie that Mitch's sister's name is Cathy. She also figures out that Melanie is looking for Mitch.
    • And, when she notices the lovebirds, she thinks she knows why Melanie is looking for Mitch.
    • Annie seems a little bitter about it. Melanie seems smug.
    • Melanie is not super likable. Did we mention that?
  • Scene 5

    Scene 5

    • Melanie gets back to the dock and takes the birds with her to a boat rental place, where she takes a small boat over to Mitch's house.
    • Lots of beautiful shots of her in her fancy fur against the natural beauty of the bay.
    • She sees Mitch go to the barn. She comes ashore, sneaks into the house, deposits the lovebirds, leaves her note, and sneaks out.
    • Birds invading the house—this will come up again.
    • Melanie sneaks back out and gets in her boat to head back across the bay.
    • She stops to watch Mitch go into the house and sees him come back out.
    • She tries to start the boat, but he gets binoculars and sees her.
    • He looks very satisfied with himself; she looks very satisfied with herself. Everyone looks satisfied with themselves.
    • Melanie motors back across the bay and watches as Mitch drives his car around the bay to meet her.
    • Did we mention she looks very smug?
    • Hitchcock will wipe that look off her face in a second, though.
    • She actually stops looking smug and composes her features into a look of bemused curiosity; she tilts her head like a bird.
    • And then, a seagull whooshes down from out of nowhere and slams into her forehead.
  • Scene 6

    Scene 6

    • Mitch leaps down to help her, and they both agree that the seagull was acting weird.
    • We're a quarter into the film, incidentally; this is the first indication of the actual plot of the movie.
    • Mitch helps her up to the restaurant; she seems out of it and in pain.
    • But then, she comes around, and the two of them start bantering again.
    • She learns he's a lawyer practicing in San Francisco.
    • Melanie lies and pretends she didn't come up just to drop off the birds; she says she's friends with Annie Hayworth.
    • She's not a very good liar, considering how much practice she seems to get.
    • Mitch smugly says he thinks she came to see him.
    • His mother comes in, and he introduces her and Melanie. If looks could kill…
    • Lydia seems very suspicious, especially when she learns Melanie delivered lovebirds.
    • Lydia isn't into her adult son dating.
    • Mitch invites Melanie to dinner anyway and bullies her into accepting.
    • Actually, she sort of equivocates—maybe she will and maybe she won't—but clearly, she will.
    • Lydia's not happy about it. Not at all.
  • Scene 7

    Scene 7

    • Melanie goes back to Annie's house and asks if she could rent a room for the night. (Annie has a "room for rent" sign in the window.) Annie says yes. Even more awkward.
    • They look up at all of the gulls flying overhead.
    • Annie makes a comment about migrating birds. Can you say double entendre?
    • That evening, Melanie pulls up to the Brenner house (with some sounds of birds off in the distance).
    • She rings the bell and sees the family (Mitch, Cathy, Lydia) coming around the house.
    • Cathy runs up and does the cute Hollywood kid thing. She hugs Melanie excitedly and thanks her for the birds.
    • Mitch says they've been looking at the chickens, which are behaving strangely. Lydia thinks there's something wrong with their feed.
    • Mitch is condescending to his mom, too.
    • Lydia has a heated conversation about the chickens with some guy named Fred. He says other chickens in the area aren't eating, either, even though they've gotten different feed.
    • Mysterious. What could the problem be?
    • There's a dissolve to show time passing, and you see Melanie playing the piano.
    • Cathy talks to Melanie about Mitch's job defending "hoods." She's supposed to be cute and innocent, but, uh, Hitchcock never really manages cute and innocent very well.
    • Cathy invites Melanie to her birthday party the next day.
    • In the other room, Lydia cross-examines Mitch about Melanie; it turns out Lydia has read about Melanie in the papers. She saw in the gossip columns that Melanie was seen jumping naked into a fountain in Rome, among other things.
    • Mitch assures Lydia in his smug, manly way that he can handle it.
    • Melanie gets in her car, ready to go.
    • Mitch says he'd like to see her in San Francisco and starts to tease her about the fountain thing.
    • She insists she was pushed.
    • Melanie admits that she was lying about Annie.
    • He keeps teasing her, and she gets irritated.
    • Ominous shot of lots of birds on the telephone wire.
    • When do you get to see birds actually causing havoc and mayhem, like you were promised?
    • Patience...
  • Scene 8

    Scene 8

    • Melanie gets back to Annie's.
    • Annie offers her some brandy; she seems to think a girl needs brandy after an evening with Mitch.
    • They chat. Annie explains she used to live in San Francisco but came up to Bodega Bay for a weekend when Mitch invited her.
    • The thing with Mitch didn't work, but she liked Bodega Bay, so she stayed. She and Mitch broke up a long time ago.
    • Then, there's some tedious psychoanalyzing of Lydia; Annie thinks Lydia is possessive and pushes Mitch's girlfriends away.
    • Annie says she came out to Bodega Bay to be near Mitch after they broke up, which seems a little stalker-y and weird, but Melanie doesn't comment.
    • Mitch calls the house for Melanie to ask her again to come to Cathy's birthday party. Melanie agrees.
    • Annie says she'll be there, too.
    • There's a loud thump at the door.
    • They open it to find a seagull that crashed into the door and killed itself.
    • Annie says maybe the gull lost its way in the dark, but Melanie points out there's a full moon.
    • They're ba-ack.
  • Scene 9

    Scene 9

    • We finally get to the bird attacks.
    • It's Cathy's party. While the kids play, Mitch and Melanie climb up the bank by the seaside.
    • Mitch tries to get Melanie to stay for dinner.
    • They flirt.
    • Melanie reveals that she does various serious things like raise money for a Korean boy to go to school. She even takes classes at Berkeley to improve herself.
    • They have a conversation in which you learn that Melanie's mother abandoned her and she's wounded and a deep thinker. Hitchcock put the scene in over the objections of Evan Hunter, the screenwriter.
    • We think Evan had a point.
    • Mitch and Melanie head back down to the party, where the kids are playing blind man's bluff, with Annie supervising and Cathy blindfolded.
    • Both Annie and Lydia give Mitch and Melanie dark, broody looks.
    • But, their dark broodiness is interrupted when a seagull whooshes down and bops Cathy in the head.
    • Here's our first full-on bird attack, just about halfway through the film.
    • Much chaos, balloons popping, children running. The whole horror film nine yards.
    • Listen to the bird calls. They sound very realistic, but if you pay attention, you can tell they're synthesized.
    • The birds fly away, and Melanie and Mitch agree they don't know what is up with the birds.
    • Mitch uses the opportunity to convince Melanie to stay for dinner. Clever, that Mitch.
  • Scene 10

    Scene 10

    • It's evening in the Brenner house.
    • The lovebirds are making a racket; Cathy wants Melanie to stay the night.
    • And then, whoosh, just like that, the second bird attack commences, as birds pour en masse out of the fireplace.
    • It's total chaos. The room is filled with screeching birds.
    • The women cover their eyes as Mitch thrashes around with a blanket trying to get the sparrows out of there.
    • If you look closely, you can see that the sparrows are not real but animated. With all of the fluttering, though, they end up being fairly convincing.
    • Dissolve to a bit later, with Officer Al examining a dead bird.
    • Al doesn't really understand what happened and doesn't believe that the birds attacked. They just don't do stuff like that.
    • Melanie takes Cathy to bed, and she decides to stay the night.
  • Scene 11

    Scene 11

    • The next morning, Melanie wakes up and looks out the window.
    • Lydia is driving Cathy to school and plans to go to visit her neighbor's farm (the one with the chickens that were acting up).
    • The perspective then follows the car as it drives away—the first time in the film that you leave Melanie's point of view.
    • Lydia drives her green truck to Mr. Fawcett's after dropping off Cathy.
    • She meets Fawcett's helper, who says he hasn't seen the boss this morning.
    • Lydia goes in. She sees some broken teacups, just like the ones in her house after the bird attack. Uh-oh.
    • She slowly enters the house, looks for Fawcett, and finds him. There's broken glass and dead birds everywhere. Fawcett is slumped in the corner in his pajamas with his eyes pecked out.
    • Yech.
    • Lydia runs away panicked, unable to speak. She staggers to her car and drives home.
    • Mitch and Melanie try to ask her what's wrong, but she just runs inside.
  • Scene 12

    Scene 12

    • Mitch is going over to the Fawcett farm to meet with Officer Al. Melanie stays to look after Lydia.
    • Mitch gives Melanie a little kiss, and they snuggle.
    • The bird attacks are bumping their relationship along, anyway.
    • Melanie takes tea to Lydia, who's worried about Cathy at the school.
    • She talks about how much she misses her husband and how weak she is without him.
    • Lydia also says that she's not sure she's happy with Mitch liking Melanie because she's always afraid of being left alone. We're not sure what's behind this sudden openness with Melanie.
    • She asks Melanie to get Cathy from school, which turns out to be a very good idea.
  • Scene 13

    Scene 13

    • Melanie pulls up at the school and goes inside.
    • The students are singing; Melanie gets Annie's attention, and Annie signals to her to wait a minute.
    • So, Melanie goes outside and sits on a bench.
    • In what is probably the most famous scene from the film, Melanie sits on a bench in front of a jungle gym.
    • You see one bird fly behind her and land on the jungle gym. Then, a few more.
    • Then, more.
    • Melanie smokes, oblivious to what's happening.
    • The kids are still singing an endless and really irritating nursery rhyme.
    • More birds.
    • Melanie looks up and sees a bird flying, follows it with her eyes, and sees it land on the jungle gym, which is now completely covered with birds.
    • Look closely during this scene; can you tell that some of the birds are fake or stuffed? Only a few are alive and moving.
    • Melanie, now completely freaked out, goes back into the school, where they're getting ready to go into the playground.
    • Melanie gets Annie to close the door and shows her the crows through the window.
    • Annie and Melanie decide they have to get the kids out.
    • Don't they have a basement? Take the kids into the basement. Don't have them go outside where the birds are!
    • But, Melanie and Annie don't listen to Shmoop.
    • Instead, they organize a fire drill and get the kids to go outside to the road.
    • Where, inevitably, they're mobbed by the birds.
    • But, if Annie and Melanie had been smarter, you wouldn't get the scene of the birds chasing the kids and getting in their hair, etc.
    • Sometimes, kids have to suffer for art.
    • A girl falls down and loses her glasses, and Cathy and Melanie run back to try to help her.
    • They get to a car and roll up the windows.
    • The birds mob the car; Melanie honks the horn to try to get them to fly away, without success.
    • Then, they all fly off for unknown reasons.
  • Scene 14

    Scene 14

    • Melanie is in the town diner, on the phone with her father.
    • She's trying to convince him that there have been deadly bird attacks in Bodega Bay; he's not really buying it.
    • A patron at the restaurant, Mrs. Bundy, explains the difference between crows and blackbirds; the children were attacked by crows.
    • Mrs. Bundy is an amateur ornithologist; she's very certain the birds couldn't possibly have attacked the children.
    • You can tell she's smart and snooty and wrong because she has a British accent. Never trust anyone in Hollywood movies with a British accent.
    • Melanie tries to get in touch with Mitch by phone.
    • Meanwhile, the folks in the diner argue; one guy shouts that it's the end of the world, while the rest quibble about whether birds could really have attacked the school.
    • A fisherman says that gulls have been attacking his boats.
    • A mother in the corner asks everyone to be quieter because the talk is scaring the children.
    • There's a lot of arguing.
    • One guy wants to kill all of the birds. But Mrs. Bundy says there are way too many birds for that.
    • More arguing.
    • The mom in the corner gets increasingly hysterical.
    • Mitch shows up with Al. Melanie explains that Cathy is with Annie at Annie's house.
    • The diner folks are supposed to tell you (yes, you) what to think about all this; you're supposed to be confused, scared, and disbelieving.
    • Still more arguing. The mom leaves with her kids to get out of town to San Francisco.
    • Mitch talks to the fisherman, but the fisherman is skeptical. Mitch talks about using smoke to confuse the birds.
    • Just then, Melanie hears birds shrieking, and you're back to bird attacks, thank goodness. Shmoop couldn't have stood much more of that pointless arguing.
    • Out the window, Melanie sees seagulls swoop down and knock over a guy at a gas pump.
    • Mitch races outside with Al and others to try to do something about the birds.
    • The mother with her kids comes running back in.
    • The men get to the guy at the pump, but they don't see that the gas nozzle is loose and that gas is pouring into the street toward some parked cars.
    • The folks at the window of the diner look out in horror.
    • Melanie sees a man about to light a cigar; he doesn't see that the gasoline has reached his car. You do. Oh, no.
    • She and other people in the diner shout to him not to drop the match, but he doesn't see them in time. He drops it, and the car blows up, incinerating him.
    • Other cars explode, and the fire races back toward the gas pump, where there's a tremendous explosion.
    • There's a shot of Melanie's horrified face, then the camera POV goes way up into the air.
    • You see the flames spreading far down below, and then birds flying about, cawing, before getting ready to swoop down and do some more damage. This is one of the most famous shots in the film.
    • And … whoosh, back down to the diner, where people are coming outside for unclear reasons. Why not go into the basement? Doesn't anyone have a basement in Bodega Bay?
    • Melanie runs outside, heading for a phone booth.
    • She shuts herself in and cowers as the birds smash against the glass.
    • She thrashes around helplessly inside—a kind of foreshadowing of the famous attic scene you'll get to later if the birds don't get you first.
    • There's a gory scene of a bloody guy beset by birds staggering up to the phone booth.
    • The birds start breaking through the glass, but Mitch comes to get her and helps her inside the restaurant.
    • They find everybody hiding in the back hallway.
    • Everyone looks traumatized, even the skeptical ornithologist.
    • The mother starts ranting hysterically and says it's all Melanie's fault because the birds weren't here until Melanie arrived and she's EVIL.
    • Melanie slaps her, which seems like the thing to do. Everyone's horrified.
    • The owner of the diner pops back in and says the birds are going away.
  • Scene 15

    Scene 15

    • Mitch and Melanie run up to Annie's house to get Cathy.
    • They go by the school and see it covered with birds. There are crows all over the jungle gym, too.
    • They slowly sneak past.
    • There are synthesized crow caws; it doesn't sound very realistic, but it is creepy.
    • They see a body lying outside the house.
    • That's Annie. Not a rival for Mitch's affections anymore, it looks like.
    • Cathy is in the house. We see her framed in the window, crying.
    • Mitch is distraught, as you might imagine. He's going to throw a rock at the crows sitting on the house, but Melanie stops him, presumably because she's afraid to rile them up.
    • Mitch covers Annie with his coat and then takes her inside.
    • As they drive away, Cathy says that she and Annie went outside when they heard the explosion, and the birds attacked. Annie pushed Cathy inside, and then the birds got her.
  • Scene 16

    Scene 16

    • Back at Mitch's house, he's boarding up the windows.
    • He casts worried glances at where the birds are gathering.
    • He says there's a pattern to their behavior; they attack, go away, and then start massing again.
    • Melanie hasn't been able to reach her father because the phone is dead.
    • Lydia calls from inside that there's news on the radio.
    • There's a brief statement that crows attacked schoolchildren but not much else.
    • You can't trust the news if you have a bird attack, Shmoopers. Sad but true.
    • Mitch has built a fire in the fireplace to keep out the birds.
    • Lydia is increasingly hysterical and thinks they should leave, but Mitch feels they shouldn't go while the birds are massing.
    • Lydia starts shouting and says she wishes Mitch's dad were here; Cathy is crying.
    • They're not showing grace under pressure there.
    • The birds have got them all a-flutter.
    • Get it?
    • Okay, fine. We won't make any more puns. Not a tweet out of us, Eagle Scout's honor.
    • Mitch and Melanie go back outside to try to do more boarding up.
  • Scene 17

    Scene 17

    • Dissolve to later in the evening, with them all sitting around quietly while Mitch checks the defenses.
    • Cathy asks if they can bring the lovebirds into the living room with them, but Lydia is dead set against it. They're birds.
    • They leave them in the kitchen.
    • Cathy asks why the birds are doing this.
    • Mitch says, "Because we're in a Hitchcock film."
    • No, actually, he says he doesn't know.
    • Waiting, waiting, waiting—everyone casting scared glances at the air.
    • Cathy goes to the bathroom to throw up; Melanie goes with her.
    • More waiting.
    • Bird cries get louder and louder, and Cathy runs to her mom.
    • Bird attack—finally.
    • Mitch throws more wood on the fire. Why didn't he board up the fireplace, exactly? Bad move, Mitch.
    • There's a sound of glass shattering, and Mitch goes to struggle with a bird getting in.
    • The birds are trying to get through the door, too. The wood is splintering.
    • Melanie thrashes around faint and useless while Mitch gets his hand all bloodied as he tries to close the window they've gotten open.
    • Lydia and Cathy cower in a corner.
    • Mitch uses a lamp cord to tie the window shut.
    • A basement. For goodness' sake, doesn't anyone in this town have a basement? Go into the basement, lock the door, and have done with it. How hard is that?
    • Mitch bandages his hand.
    • The birds are pecking through the door. Those are some birds.
    • Mitch puts a big piece of furniture in front of it and hammers it in place.
    • Melanie looks on uselessly.
    • There's a big electronic screech, and the lights go out.
    • This whole time, none of the characters talk; the only sound is the birds.
    • The screeching gets fainter, and Mitch says, "They're going," which means that's it, more or less.
  • Scene 18

    Scene 18

    • Later in the night—the fire is still going. Mitch is passed out in a chair.
    • Melanie is still awake and seems to hear a fluttering of wings.
    • She doesn't want to wake Mitch so she decides to investigate herself, taking the flashlight.
    • You've seen horror movies, right? You know this is a bad idea.
    • Melanie must not have seen Psycho. Come on, lady. Don't go investigating on your own. Nothing good will come of that.
    • She ignores Shmoop's warnings, and off she goes.
    • She checks the kitchen, where the lovebirds are still in the cage.
    • Then, she heads for the stairs.
    • Up, up, up she goes, right to her doom.
    • She hears fluttering behind a door.
    • She opens it very, very slowly.
    • She looks up and sees a hole in the roof. The birds are perched on furniture in the room.
    • She shines her light, and they attack her.
    • She gasps and thrashes but can't get the door behind her open.
    • More gasping and thrashing.
    • More gasping and thrashing.
    • It goes on for awhile, the gasping and thrashing, with Melanie getting more and more bloodied.
    • "Oh, Mitch," she moans, which seems weirdly sexual.
    • She sinks to the ground, blocking the door.
    • Mitch and Lydia finally show up, and Mitch manages to drag her out of the room.
    • Lydia goes for bandages; Cathy brings brandy.
    • Melanie wakes up and thrashes hysterically.
    • She's catatonic with shock.
    • Mitch wants to get her to the hospital in San Francisco. Lydia doesn't think they can make it.
    • Mitch says they have to do it.
    • Mitch decides to go outside and try to get Melanie's car.
    • Mitch goes outside … and this is only the second time in the film that you move away from Melanie's perspective.
    • Outside, the ground is covered in birds, birds, birds. Also, birds.
    • Mitch walks slowly across the yard, with the birds everywhere.
    • One pecks him when he gets his hand too close (it was the anchovies), but otherwise, they mostly avoid him.
    • They just sit there and watch him.
    • Mitch gets to the car and turns on the radio.
    • He hears the announcer say the bird attacks have stopped and that there have been a few attacks outside of Bodega Bay.
    • Most of Bodega Bay has been evacuated, and there's been talk of sending in the military.
    • Mitch drives the car out slowly, slowly, and you get lots of shots of gulls milling about on the ground. They look like such ordinary gulls.
    • Mitch goes to the house, and he and Lydia help a still-unresponsive Melanie to the car.
    • Melanie takes a look at the birds and says, "No … no!" And who can blame her?
    • She's still wearing that fancy fur coat. But, she's not so smug or sophisticated now, is she? The birds made sure of that.
    • Heavy symbolism: all of her wealth and uptown elegance couldn't protect her.
    • Mitch goes back to help Cathy, who brings the lovebirds with her.
    • Melanie nestles against Lydia in the car.
    • The last shot is from the yard with all of the birds—zillions of them—watching as the car slowly drives away into the distance.