I was standing on the train platform, waiting. It was Thanksgiving
, cool, but not cold yet. From somewhere nearby, shattering the placid silence of the commuter rail station on a Saturday, came an abrupt bird
sound. Or perhaps it was several birds. As it went on, it seemed to warble up and down in unhealthy ways, and it was very loud
- after 20 seconds of this, it was obvious that a bird had to be seriously injured
in order to make noise like that.
I looked around. Several people were standing on the platform apathetically. One woman who had been walking toward her car paused and looked towards the source of the noise, grimaced, and kept walking. I walked forward, towards the overpass and the elevator, looking around. I expected to see something right away. But as soon as I took 10 steps, the noise abruptly stopped. Abashed, I walked back to where I had been leaning against the railing.
A few minutes later, it started again. This time I immediately walked forward. Standing under the overpass and next to the elevator, I knew I should be right on top of it, but I could see nothing, and there was no fluttering of wings, just this awful, tortured bird cry. Then I looked up.
In the guts of the underside of the overpass hung (loosely) several long rows of needles, of the kind made to prevent brids from perching on a ledge. Many were partially dislodged, and they were all completely crusted white with bird shit. In the midst of these hung three little cube speakers (also crusted white with bird shit), which, I realized, were broadcasting the bird strangling noise - just a single, 30 second sample, over and over again, at intervals.
This was obviously psychological warfare on the birds. Of a caddyshack level. Some scientist had probably spent years torturing pigeons with his synthesizer to come up with this exact combination of ear-splitting bone-chilling sound. It apparently hadn't occurred to anyone that it might be even more disturbing to people.