Bodega Bay and The Birds

Today we took a mid-Memorial weekend day drive, from Oakland. We’d planned a drive up to the Russian River area, thinking to drive up the coast with a stop in Bodega Bay for lunch. We left at 11am; it took 4 hours to get to Bodega Bay. Partly due to traffic getting thru SF before the Golden Gate Bridge, mostly the slow drive (including some traffic) along Route 1, a beautiful drive once you’re along the coast, but not fast.

So we mosied around Bodega Bay and called it a day. We had oysters at Fisherman’s Cove, and a nice early dinner at Terrapin Creek Cafe Restaurant, which I am happy to plug.

Bodega Bay, of course, is the setting of the Hitchcock film The Birds, and I was fascinated to look around see if I could spot any specific locations. The only one I saw was the wharf area where, in the film, locals complain in a diner, Tippi Hedren is trapped in a phone booth as the birds attack, and this attack triggers a gasoline fire at a fill-up station. The wharf is still there, the diner greatly expanded.

We drove all the way around the bay, wondering if the house where Rod Taylor’s character (Mitch Brenner) lived actually existed. No sign of it.

Of course, there are any number of websites (and I have a book, somewhere, about film locations), that explain in great detail what scenes were shot where. E.g., this one,, which explains that schoolhouse where the birds sat on power lines before attacking children was actually a few miles inland, not right above the bay as it seems in the film; and this one,, which explains that the Brenner [Rod Taylor’s character] house was used only for exterior shots and has long since been demolished. (The interior scenes of this house and other scenes were filmed on soundstages back in LA.)

No surprise of course; all films of this era mixed live locations, usually with somewhat fictitious geography, and scenes filmed on sets in Hollywood.

But it was impressive to see the general area of Bodega Bay, and how it did overall resemble the locale of the film. I don’t have a conscious bucket list — but visiting this location is something I’ve long thought about, and am happy to have fulfilled.

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