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Book Excerpt: Tanglewood: A Group Memoir

Book Excerpt: Tanglewood: A Group Memoir
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So James F. Kiley, Tanglewood’s operations manager, has bought and installed three electronic noisemakers in the Shed. Two sit in the acoustical “clouds” above the stage. One is above the television platform in the center.
All three rotate and go clackety-clackety-clackety-click when the orchestra isn’t playing. When the music begins, the machines switch to a high ultrasonic hum.

The sound, Kiley says, is “piercing to the birds and they shy away from it.”

What else is new? The starlings and sparrows still fly in and around and out. But Kiley’s not squawking.

Another tactic was reported on by Christian Howlett in the July 26-August 1 issue of Berkshire Week in 1985. The headline was “Bye Bye Birdie.”

It seemed for awhile that the birds had capitulated [to the electronic devices], but before celebration could begin they returned and took up residence again, oblivious to Kiley’s efforts. With more than $1,000 for the noisemakers down the drain, it appeared that the starlings had won. The status quo continued for several years.

Now, though, Kiley is claiming that he has been “very, very successful in eliminating the birds. They’re nowhere near as much of a problem this year.”

The final solution? Twenty-four inflatable owls from a Lenox hardware store. The owls, which in nature are starling predators, were hung in the Shed at the beginning of nesting season and seem to have scared away the birds. The defense has simply involved moving the owl decoys every five or six days, Kiley said, so the starlings wouldn’t catch on.

I don’t know about you, but the last time I went to a concert in the Shed, the birds were still singing their little hearts out.

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