Sometimes change happens as quickly as flipping a light switch. One moment it’s dark. A second later brightness fills the room. Other changes creep up so subtly that it’s hard to notice them at all.

That’s what happened to my hearing acuity. It probably started years ago when massive machine gun noise assaulted my ears during Army training, and running chain saws, lawn mowers, and other machines didn’t help. Gradually and pretty much unnoticed I developed tinnitus and lost the ability to hear many of nature’s delightful sounds.

Finch

Rich could not hear the sweet sound of the finch.

One day my wife, Marion, and I were sitting in the living room when she asked, “What bird is calling outside the window?”  I couldn’t hear a thing! It was time to get my hearing checked and a few days later I was at Heartland Hearing Center in Cedar Rapids. Audiologist Jennifer Reekers positioned me into a small booth and tested my ability to hear sounds of varied intensity and wavelength. The test proved what I already knew. I could not hear many sounds well, especially high pitches.

“Hearing aids will help restore your ability to hear many sounds,” she said. Over the next few weeks, she fitted me with a different trial pairs until I found one that did the trick. It was in spring and I could hear bird calls I hadn’t heard in years. Some sounds were odd, like hearing my own footsteps and my pants legs swooshing together as I walked.

My experience with the aids has been positive and, although they were expensive, it was money well spent. In the Premier section below is an article on the causes of hearing loss and how to improve hearing. It includes tips to protect hearing before loss sets in and what can be done to enable better sound detection and is reprinted from OUTDOORS UNLIMITED Magazine.

Wildlife and Hearing

Humans are fortunate. We have a fair ability to see, hear, taste, and smell. The senses of many wild animals have senses much better than ours, but they usually aren’t as well balanced.

Karla Bloem with Barn Owl

Barn owls can find prey in complete darkness using only their hearing.

For example, according to Karla Bloem, Executive Director of the International Owl Center, a barn owl’s hearing is so keen that it can detect and catch a mouse in complete darkness. Its vision is also outstanding, although probably only in black and white. But, that owl may not have a sense of smell or taste at all.

Like owls, wild turkeys have outstanding vision and hearing but probably no sense of smell or taste.

The sense of smell and hearing possessed by deer is amazingly well developed, but their vision isn’t very good. Humans are fortunate to have all our senses, although none of them may be as keen as those of certain animals. Hearing loss can often be prevented.   Take care around loud noise.

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