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Hearing issues and birding

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Old Sunday 9th August 2020, 06:11   #1
bonxie2003
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Hearing issues and birding

Just commenting on the ďswiftĒ thread made me decide to post this new thread. I havenít heard swifts for several years now, despite seeing plenty of them. I believe my frequency range has diminished as Iíve got older. I also struggle to hear Cuckoos and grasshopper warblers are silent. I have to see them to know they are there. Not only does it make birding harder, but a large slice of the joy of birding has gone.

Is anyone else aware of this? Any other species cause problems?

Itís not all bad, I picked up whimbrel the other day purely on their call.
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Old Sunday 9th August 2020, 06:52   #2
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Yes, if I go 'birding' in company, it is usually with a gent near twice my age, who I met half a dozen years ago. He was great at identifying bird species by ear, but now that he is in his 80's he has noticeably lost some of that - and at times I'd say he's deaf as a beetle !

It just seems a general decline rather than one species or another - I've recommended that he seriously investigates a hearing aid (it helped my similarly aged parents no end - stopped them arguing with each other while having two completely separate and unrelated conversations with one another ! Which I must admit, made for hilarious spectator sport !).

I also know someone with Cochlear implants. I knew him in his 30's and toward the later part of that decade he got a second one. This increased the range of sounds he could then hear. I remember the day he was able to discern a magpie as a separate sound - he was grinning and dancing and squawking around like a kid with candy !

I myself have a bit of industrial deafness courtesy of an early workplace, and though I can hear the individual sounds ok, have trouble picking what they are. Not helped by never having had a musical bone in my body I suppose !

It does indeed make 'birding' harder, but also gives some added motivation to nail a precise id.






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Old Sunday 9th August 2020, 07:03   #3
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Sadly I already have hearing aids. Still no joy.
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Old Sunday 9th August 2020, 07:20   #4
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I can't hear shrews any more, so I've lost some top frequencies. One of my friends has a more general issue with distant/quiet sounds but seems to retain the full range of frequencies if the sound is loud enough. Together we seem to manage....

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Old Sunday 9th August 2020, 07:25   #5
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We had a guide in Uganda who was superb but it soon became apparent to us, that his hearing was shot and he knew it. No idea what we may have missed due to his impediment but even at my age, 60, I could hear many more species than him, as could my travelling companion.

Sadly for him, he cannot access any hearing aids so his guiding will eventually have to come to an end.
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Old Sunday 9th August 2020, 07:26   #6
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Originally Posted by Farnboro John View Post
I can't hear shrews any more, so I've lost some top frequencies. One of my friends has a more general issue with distant/quiet sounds but seems to retain the full range of frequencies if the sound is loud enough. Together we seem to manage....

John
I struggle with the lower sounds and often can't hear Nightjar species unless they're really close.
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Old Sunday 9th August 2020, 07:30   #7
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Shrews? Do they make a sound? Perhaps we need to introduce a handicap (definitely no pun intended) system for year listing as my lists are likely to be affected as I get older
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Old Sunday 9th August 2020, 07:35   #8
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When I was in Nepal with a mate, he hadn't realised how bad his ears were until he was there with me. I could hear feeding flocks which were heading our way and he just couldn't.
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Old Sunday 9th August 2020, 07:35   #9
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Had some much younger birders than me staying last week (I'm still young, he says). Interestingly one of them is always hearing shrews and voles and things I have absolutely no cognisance of at all.

But then we were at a Nightjar site and I was the first to pick up a churring bird. Maybe his hearing is tuned far higher to start with?
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Old Sunday 9th August 2020, 07:36   #10
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Had some much younger birders than me staying last week (I'm still young, he says). Interestingly one of them is always hearing shrews and voles and things I have absolutely no cognisance of at all.

But then we were at a Nightjar site and I was the first to pick up a churring bird. Maybe his hearing is tuned far higher to start with?
I can still hear Bat sqeaks as they fly near my home.
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Old Sunday 9th August 2020, 07:37   #11
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Never heard a bat in my life ... and in the last week had them flying barely a few feet above my head in two locations (mid-sized species, so not sure what range would have been anyway).
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Old Sunday 9th August 2020, 07:41   #12
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Itís difficult to know what you canít hear, because you canít hear it to know itís there. Iím generally ok with nightjar. But swifts and grassies I canít even hear on the Collins app
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Old Sunday 9th August 2020, 08:07   #13
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I can still hear Redwings flying over at night, anyone struggle with that one?
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Old Sunday 9th August 2020, 08:34   #14
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As I say, I donít know. Itís so sad
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Old Sunday 9th August 2020, 08:39   #15
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I can’t hear Grasshopper Warblers unless they practically fly into my ear.
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Old Sunday 9th August 2020, 11:39   #16
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I can hear shrews, Grasshopper Warblers, Redwings, etc.

I can hear bats, very occasionally, but they're so rare these days with the collapse in insect numbers that it isn't often one can.

I can't hear Nightjars any more, because there's none within hearing range: the nearest is about 30 km away, and that's too far to hear them even with my ears. If there was some way of getting closer, then I'd be able to hear them, but with covid restrictions and lack of evening transport, there isn't.


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.. Perhaps we need to introduce a handicap (definitely no pun intended) system for year listing as my lists are likely to be affected as I get older
That'd be a good idea - first suggestion, deduct 100 points from anyone caught using a car, that dreadful implement of wealthy privilege and perpetrator of climate & wildlife destruction, for year listing
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Old Sunday 9th August 2020, 13:16   #17
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That'd be a good idea - first suggestion, deduct 100 points from anyone caught using a car, that dreadful implement of wealthy privilege and perpetrator of climate & wildlife destruction, for year listing
And half the score from anybody using guides. Ticking off what your guide has found...

Ontopic: at a young 52 I can still hear everything, fortunately. I would really miss birdsong if this is ever going to end
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Old Sunday 9th August 2020, 13:19   #18
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That'd be a good idea - first suggestion, deduct 100 points from anyone caught using a car, that dreadful implement of wealthy privilege and perpetrator of climate & wildlife destruction, for year listing


That's not the way you wrote it the first time Nutty....
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Old Sunday 9th August 2020, 14:42   #19
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I can still hear Bat squeaks as they fly near my home.
It's a foul calumny that at night you hang upside-down from the rafters, is it then, Andy...?
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Old Sunday 9th August 2020, 15:13   #20
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It's a foul calumny that at night you hang upside-down from the rafters, is it then, Andy...?
No, that's bit's true, whilst reading Mein Kampf, some would have you believe.
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Old Sunday 9th August 2020, 16:59   #21
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This issue was raised with regard to the last UK atlas as the average age of those involved meant that many would have hearing issues potentially resulting in under-recording of birds like the 'crests, Treecreepers, Locustella, etc. Many years ago I occasionally went birding at Stodmarsh with a friend in his mid-seventies and such was his hearing that if he heard a bird reeling I knew it had to be a Savi's rather than a Grasshopper Warbler (which he couldn't hear). I now find myself in a similar position (although only my left ear can pick up Savi's). This spring I was mortified when a couple of Crossbill flew low over my head calling but I couldn't hear a thing.

However, where I find my loss of hearing is really problematic isn't in hearing individual birds but being able to recognise when there's been a decent fall in the autumn. Not hearing the calls of 'crests and struggling to hear Phyloscs etc makes it all to easy not to appreciate that there's been a decent fall and every bush needs to be thoroughly checked out. It also means that when on a birding trip to exotic areas I can't hear the birds to locate them and, unless the tour guide is on the ball, I miss out on being alerted and/or directions to see the bird.

My hearing aids seem to make little difference. I gather that the "SongFinder" ($750 I think) which lowered frequencies to allow birders to hear high frequency sounds is no longer available presumably because it's something of a niche market. This device required shirt-pocket sized device & 'wired' headphones which I guess wasn't ideal either. With advances in technology it ought to be possible to devise something more convenient ....
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Old Sunday 9th August 2020, 17:37   #22
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I stopped hearing Goldcrests and the like years ago so last year I had my hearing checked at Boots with the result that I now have a pair of very expensive Phonax hearing aids. Before buying I tested them by listening to 10 recordings of birds that I couldn't hear before the aids. With the aids I could hear 8 out of 10. The 2 I couldn't hear (goldcrest and lt tit) I have since heard in the field. The problem I now have is that the birds I could hear (eg Robin) have gone up in pitch because I can now hear the higher frequency harminics which is very confusing. These aids have a tiny microphone built in which analyses background noise and uses software to adjust the loudspeaker accordingly.
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Old Sunday 9th August 2020, 18:12   #23
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Fading eyesight is an increasing problem for me, if birds remain still, I have a terrible job picking them up. Having had corrective surgey almost ten years ago, I wanted it done again but for various reasons they won't do it.

This leaves me with the inevitable choice of glasses or going back to contact lenses. I prefer lenses but when away on trips when hygiene can be an issue, it's easy to get an infection. I had an infection in Thailand one year and it was excruciating and it was fun in Nepal when all my solution and lens cases froze in the room but I still think I favour lenses when the time comes.
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Old Sunday 9th August 2020, 19:54   #24
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Never heard a bat despite them being regular visitors to my garden (serotine and pipistrelle)
I can still hear Skylarks, which was the first bird my late father-in-law said he lost when his hearing went downhill in his 50's... I'm 60 next year so fingers crossed I will keep kearing larks for a few years yet
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Old Sunday 9th August 2020, 20:08   #25
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Never heard a bat despite them being regular visitors to my garden (serotine and pipistrelle)
I can still hear Skylarks, which was the first bird my late father-in-law said he lost when his hearing went downhill in his 50's... I'm 60 next year so fingers crossed I will keep hearing larks for a few years yet
The other aspect of this is that even with birds where you can hear a song, elements are missing as they're now at too high a frequency which can entirely distort what they sound like. What used to be a flowing linked series of notes can become a disjointed collection of squawks.
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