Birds are not inherently scary. They’re small and have hollow bones and mostly keep to themselves unless someone’s handing out bread crumbs. So give credit to Alfred Hitchcock for masterly turning our fine feathered friends into terrifying agents of destruction in his 1963 thriller The Birds. What Hitch realized was that, while a single bird can easily be swatted away, a whole flock of them is a nearly unstoppable wave of feathers, talons and beaks. Indeed, what makes The Birds unique compared with other killer-animal films is the extent to which our heroes (society girl Tippi Hedren and smarmy lawyer Rod Taylor) are impotent against the ornithological threat. They can’t fight back; they can merely watch helplessly as the birds ram into windows, poke out farmers’ eyeballs and stab the exposed fleshy bits of terrified schoolchildren. In the end, there is no victory: the humans simply run away, hoping they are spared from the next unexplained avian apocalypse. Truly, the beaks have inherited the earth.