THE OC star Mischa Barton is ill at ease when she's in rustic surroundings - because she has a huge fear of birds.

Birds petrify Barton, even though she shared screen time with them in her first film LAWN DOGS and performed on the stage of New York's renowned Lincoln Center with them in TWELVE DREAMS.

The 18-year-old says, "I'm so scared of birds. I don't like pigeons, the way they fly at you because as a kid you like chase them and then they fly over at your head.

"But when I was doing a film in Australia a couple of years ago you go to the wildlife parks there, but they're kind of lax on security. They're like, 'Oh, come look at the nature. Pet the kangaroos.'

"And emus are really big. They're like psycho birds that chase you. So I walk up to the bird and I'm like, 'Wow, that's great. Maybe you feed it or something,' and it just charged right at me.

"There's no fencing or anything because you're looking at the wildlife. I ran right into the wildlife bathroom and closed the door. That was it."

20/12/2004 09:47