What made Alfred Hitchcock's birds go bananas and start pecking out the eyeballs of the good people of Bodega Bay, California? Scientists think they've finally figured it out.

Hitchcock's Birds was loosely inspired by crazed seabirds who pelted the shores of North Monterey Bay, California with regurgitated anchovies back in 1961. Many scientists have since hypothesized that the birds' erratic actions were caused by some sort of ingested neurotoxin.

In 1991, the vomiting fish incident occurred all over again with dying pelicans. Now, a paper published in Nature Geoscience has pinpointed the culprit behind the birds' maniac episodes:

"The pelicans had ingested domoic acid, a neurotoxin that is produced by the diatom Pseudo-nitzschia. Large quantities of this diatom, and the associated toxin, were found in the stomachs of fish in the region. It has been suggested that diatom-generated domoic acid was also responsible for the 1961 event, but direct evidence has been lacking. Here we show that plankton samples from the 1961 poisoning contained toxin-producing Pseudo-nitzschia, supporting the contention that these toxic diatoms were responsible for the bird frenzy that motivated Hitchcock's thriller.

Now, if only they can explain Melanie Daniels' (as played by Tippi Hedren) creepy stalker tendencies throughout the whole damn movie.

[via Vulture]