Last Updated on by Mitch Rezman
Editor’s note: full transparency, I don’t think we’ve ever covered the subject of pet birds and hearing.
Once again a loyal reader comes through with a potentially serious issue that until now we have left opaque.
Many of us take for granted that our birds can hear but exactly how good is their hearing, how has it evolved and how do they use it?
So I’m going to cut out the middleman and present you with a (technical) document that drills down to the heart of the avian hearing subject.
Robert C. Beason
USDA Wildlife Services, National Wildlife Research Center, Ohio Field Station, Sandusky, Ohio
Some excerpts I found interesting
One problem with infrasound and other low frequencies, especially for birds, is determination of the direction of the sound source.
Because their ears are close together, mechanisms that function at higher frequencies are not usable.
One technique birds could use to locate a sound source would be to fly in a circle and use the doppler shifts to determine direction (Quine and Kreithen 1981, Hagstrum 2000).
Two problems that birds face, along with humans working in environments with loud noises, are damage to the hair cell receptors of the auditory system caused by overstimulation, and hearing signals above the background noise.
Pyrotechnics, including bangers, poppers, screamers, etc., are biologically relevant sounds because they provide the acoustic information generated by a (human) predator without the
actual predatory attack
I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.
BTW, If you have ever heard a train coming from one direction, you’ll have noticed that its sound gets louder as it approaches and begins to dim as it passes.
You could tell the direction of the train with your eyes closed, just by the sound.
That’s the doppler effect at work.
Susan D. Fong wrote:
I hope that all is well.
I had a very strange thing happen last Sunday.
I was awakened at 12:30 AM by VERY LOUD and BLARING music.
I was a bit dazed, having been woken up so abruptly, and figured that it was coming from outside on the street as I live in a commercial area.
I thought a car must have been stopped at the traffic light beneath my window and was blaring its music from the car windows.
I laid there and wasn’t happy about being disturbed from a sound sleep which is difficult for me to come by these days.
I said to myself that this was a VERY LONG light.
I, then, realized that the loud music was coming from the right side through my bedroom door.
I was frightened and thought that someone had broken into my apt and picked up the remote to my home theater system and turned it on.
The volume was the highest it could go.
Seymour’s (a white-bellied caique) cage is in my living room and she was subjected to this tremendous volume.
I mustered up the courage and entered my living room only to find that there was no one there except the music was blaring and probably woke the tenant above up along with his family.
I quickly turned off the system.
I got Seymour out of her birdcage and held her close.
She seemed un-phased.
A half-hour later, the music started up again, and knowing that this would just continue happening, I had to disconnect the system which wasn’t easy as I had to get behind some things to disconnect the power adapter.
I called BOSE the next day and was told that a neighbor’s remote control may be on the same frequency as my unit and just kept turning my system on.
This apparently can happen through brick (concrete) walls for a distance of up to 65 ft.
Rather than change the frequency of my remote, I have opted to just keep my home theater system disconnected until I plan on using it.
It’s a shame that this happened because it is a hassle to have to keep plugging and unplugging the system.
I was very concerned that the blaring volume might have damaged Seymour’s hearing and I googled it to find out that a bird’s hearing can NEVER get damaged.
A bird’s hearing will rebound back to normal. I was so happy to learn of this. Please feel free to share my story with your readers if you would like to write an article about a bird’s hearing.
Editor’s note: Unfortunately Susan, your search results were not accurate.
I quote from What Can Birds Hear?
“A problem that birds suffer that is similar to humans is damage to the auditory receptors (hair cells) from loud noises.
The sound intensity that produces damage and the amount of damage produced differs depending on the species.”
I hope that you, Catherine and your birdie family have a WONDERFUL Thanksgiving!
Thank you for the story, Susan.
You’re very welcome, MItch.
I was quite concerned for a few days.
That was a very scary experience.
Yes, according to what I’ve read, Seymour will be OK.
I hear you about having no family to argue with…LOL.
Happy Holidays to you and Catherine (any your birdie family)
P.S. I can’t believe that in a few weeks, it’s Christmas already. The year is going by very quickly.
Laugh when you can, apologize when you should, let go of what you cannot change.
Kiss slowly, forgive quickly, play hard.
Take chances, give everything you have, no regrets.
Life is too short to be anything but happy…
Your zygodactyl footnote