[CT Birds] Boston Hollow, Westford, 4-28-10, and comments on my "hearing aid"

Mntncougar at aol.com Mntncougar at aol.com
Wed Apr 28 16:12:24 EDT 2010

>From the volume of sounds, at least, Boston Hollow was alive  with a 
limited assortment of birds today, though most proved very hard to  find.  I saw 2 
but am certain there were at least 6 Northern Waterthrushes  along a half 
mile stretch of Road.  In the same area, at least 5  Black-throated Green 
Warblers, though I saw only 1.  I saw one Wren, likely  a Winter Wren, but it 
never sang, so I'm not sure.  possibly a House Wren  or even a Marsh Wren I 
suppose.  At least 3 bird songs I heard clearly but  could not ID (still 
learning to use my "birders  hearing aid" and re-learn  many of the songs).  I 
flushed one very dark, smallish hawk from the  roadside, but did not get a 
good enough look to ID it.  Probably a Coop or  a Red-shoulder.  No where near 
the number of Chipping Sparrows and Pine  Warblers heard last week.
Weather was terrible, gray, cold and windy, with constant  sprinkles and 
some snowflakes melting on my windshield.  Car thermometer  showed a high 
reading of 42.  Fortunately Boston Hollow is a place that can  easily be birded 
almost exclusively from a car, especially if you actually have  decent 
hearing.  The hearing aid is not a gimmick, and a relatively  expensive device, 
but If you have as limited high-frequency hearing as I, it  makes an amazing 
difference.  I am now wondering how many birds I have  walked by or driven 
past, never knowing they were there.  A bird that I can  barely hear normally 
can be almost too loud with the headphones, and the vast  majority that I 
now hear are not audible to me at all without them, not  even close.  
Obviously, there  are trade-offs.  The songs sound  different because they are 
lower in pitch.  Occasionally there is some  distortion of lower pitched sounds, 
though not normally, and they are NOT  amplified or lowered in pitch as are 
the high ones.   Bird songs that  I was sometimes able to hear before now 
sound different to me because there are  components of them that I never 
heard before.  I suspect that I now hear  things that even most people with 
normal hearing do not.  
The positive aspect of this device is that I am now able to  "bird by ear", 
and it makes an amazing difference.  Minor negatives, aside  from just 
having to wear it, are the fact  that there is no option to  amplify 
high-pitched sounds at their original frequency, and occasionally there  is minor 
distortion of other sounds.  Also, I have to re-learn most bird  songs that I 
cannot ID just from cadence or etc.  A wish list would be to  be able to 
amplify sounds at the original frequency, and potential ability to  record sounds 
that the device picks up.
Overall, I am very glad I made the investment, and sorry I  waited so long.
Don Morgan

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