Mel Gibson's and Goldie Hawn's characters are supposed to be former lovers, who are the same age. In real-life, there is an eleven-year age difference between Hawn (born in 1945) and Gibson (born in 1956).
The size of the gigantic zoo set measured 83 feet wide by 350 feet long and was almost six stories high. The DVD production notes state that the movie's massive zoo set was the "largest studio set ever built in Vancouver". It was constructed at the Bridge Studios in Vancouver, British Columbia. Production Designer Philip Harrison said that the zoo set was "a once in a lifetime" undertaking.
Producer Rob Cohen has said of this movie: "There have been other films with car chases, helicopters, motorcycle rides through impossibly narrow alleys, rooftop escapes, et cetera. But this picture's specialty was the zoo climax and the difficulty shooting it".
The final negotiating point to convince Mel Gibson to do this film, was the offer of a use of a producer's house for the summer, allowing Gibson to shoot the film, and give his large family an excellent summer vacation home.
Director John Badham has said of working with wild animals on this movie: "No animals are easy to direct. They don't read the script. It's kind of like controlled chaos - you have to be really ready to catch something exciting that may happen, and you have to be ready to deal with things that are dangerous, because these are wild animals, and they will hurt you."
There were two major bridges which spanned the rain-forest central sixty foot crevasse. Both of them were more than three stories high. The main suspension bridge had to be engineered and reinforced, to be able to withstand crew and equipment weighing 1,200 pounds.
Three kinds of sand were brought in for the movie's enormous zoo set. This included sixteen truckloads that were transported from Oregon. The three sand types were mixed together, and then sifted three times, so as to filter out and remove any glass particles that could possibly hurt any of the big cat's paws. The mixed sand was used to put on the concrete floors of the animal cages, which were cushioned with four inches of the sand, so as to protect the big cat's paws.
Animals in the zoo sequence included a lion, one baboon, an iguana, a seven foot monitor lizard, a twelve foot python, three jaguars, four alligators, six tigers, six chimpanzees, and twenty-five kinds of parrots.
Though he has since acted in other major movies, and though he had directed for television, Bird on a Wire (1990) was the last big cinema movie that Bill Duke appeared in as an actor, before he directed his first movie, which was A Rage in Harlem (1991).
When Joe Weyburn (Stephen Tobolowsky) goes to check on Ricks last places of employment, you get a brief glimpse of the name David Puttnam and Columbia pictures. A reference to Puttnam's brief, and turbulent, time as head of Columbia pictures in the '80s.
There were three waterfalls constructed in the rain-forest set, with the largest of them being about three stories high. This waterfall, and its two companion waterfalls, according to the film's production notes, were the first ever built on a soundstage in Canada.
In the first car chase scene, all of the roads are almost completely wet (on a perfectly fine, clear, hot day), allowing the cars to drift and spin out easier - which is a common technique utilized by stunt crews in movies.
In the mall scene, when Mel Gibson and Goldie Hawn are walking to the stairs, the provincial flag for Saskatchewan can be seen, and as they start walking down the stairs, the provincial flags for Ontario, British Colombia, and Prince Edward Island can be seen behind them.
Goldie Hawn did most of her own stunts for the film, after being convinced by Mel Gibson to do so. She was originally reluctant to perform them, fearing the harsh and overwhelming nature of the tasks. She was eventually so pleased with her stunt performances, that she kept her stunt man's jacket after filming resumed, and as of 2017, still exhibits it next to her Oscar statuette.
The make and model of the crop dusting plane was a Piper J-3C-65 Cub light aircraft, while the make and model of the black chopper that chased it, was a Hughes 369D helicopter. Both aircraft are seen flying upside down, and even doing a 360 degree loop, something which had also been seen in John Badham's earlier movie Blue Thunder (1983).
One of three 1990 movies starring Mel Gibson which were first released in that year. The other pictures were Hamlet (1990) and Air America (1990). Bird on a Wire (1990) though was shot in mid-1989, but did not debut in theaters until 1990.
The name of the hairdresser's salon was "Raun of Racine Hair Styling", while the cropdusting company name on the plane was "Hauman's Speed Kill Cropdusting Services". Both "Raun" and "Hauman" had similar sounding names.