Filming on the set of cult Alfred Hitchcock thriller The Birds was brought to a standstill one afternoon when one of creature handler RAY BREWICK's seagulls flew off.

Brewick trained three gulls to fly from his arm and pretend to divebomb children for a horrific scene in the 1963 movie.

But when one of the birds didn't return, the handler persuaded Hitchcock to close the movie down and help him look for it.

Actress Tippi Hedren recalls, "He wired the birds' little beaks very loosely so they wouldn't accidentally hurt the children and then they'd fly off and come back to Ray's arm.

"The first and second birds took off and came back, the third one took off and didn't come back. Ray walked up to Hitch and said, 'Mr Hitchcock, we have to close down for the afternoon because I have to find that bird.'

"He explained that Charlie would have died a very painful death if he hadn't removed the wire off his beak."

Hedren admits the filming was fraught with problems - she was sprayed with shards of glass when one scene in a phone booth went wrong.

She adds, "They had a fake seagull up on a wire and it was supposed to smash into this safety glass, but it wasn't safety glass, and they picked little pieces of glass out of my face for an afternoon."

27/08/2003 21:14