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Oh Happy Days, Birds Hearing
March 12, 2012

Oh Happy Days.........................

Yolanda's room is fully operational once again.

It seems the most of the water damage was from the previous owners that simply gave it a lick and a promise for a quick sell.

Once the seal around the window was compromised, it started to leak once again.

Insurance doesn't cover damage due to maintenance,or lack of. Insurance will cover if there is a leak from a water pipe or water heater.

A $150 to the handyman.

Me feathering out the mud and sanding and priming it.

We had some extra wallpaper and I hung that as well.

The floor guy does his job and a new set of bedroom furniture.

Yolanda is pleased.

Karen is no longer stressing

I'm one happy guy (until the next project).

Hopefully, I'll be posting the last few winter pictures in this letter.

If not, it is Michigan after all.

Yes, it is an exciting time of year.

I heard and then saw my first Sandhill cranes heading north (Wednesday), that is always a good thing to see and hear.

We managed to hit the low to mid 60 degrees a couple times this past week.

I know it is still March, but anything right now is a plus.

Daylight Savings and that extra hour of daylight it brings.

I realize it is but psychological advantage, I suppose I could wake up a bit earlier.

No matter, it is here just in time for 'March Madness' to begin.

Get your brackets all filled out and root on your favorite High School and College Basketball teams.

March Madness also means it is time to start thinking about gardens, nature walks, and you can almost smell the pop corn and hot dogs at ballparks scattered through out the country sides.

This Saturday is when most people seems to have a 'Bit O the Irish' in them.

It is the only time I get to feast on Corned Beef and Cabbage, and Karen does it right.

For you people in the more temperate zones, be wise.

As tempting as it is to get out and want to work in yards and gardens, you often to more harm than good when the ground is still damp.

Compacting your lawns and gardens is one of the worst things you can do for them.

Leave the leaf litter to break down and feed your plants and offer nesting material for birds.

Not to mention a few more cold days ahead of us.

If you haven't started your tomato seeds, it is safe to do so about now.

Six to Eight weeks is all they really need from seed to garden.

If you give them more time than that, you will need to replant in bigger pots and worry about stalky plants.

Tomatoes are the most popular veggie/fruit we grow.

Technically a fruit, yet we view them as vegetables.

Another long winded letter this week.

Take your time as you read and possibly learn a bit about 'Bird's Hearing'.


One of the endearing and endlessly fascinating things we enjoy about birds is their song.

Most birds make some noises.

Sounds are a prelude to, and part of, courtship, as a means of simply staying in touch with the flock.

As a way of identifying either your young or your parents and as an efficient method of sending out a quick warning of approaching danger is an integral part of both a birds and a bird watchers life.

If birds are using sound as a means to communicate then they need to be able to hear as well as create sounds.

Sounds and hearing are very important in the life of a bird.

Without the ability to hear, birds would be completely lost.


Most birds have their ear holes covered with tiny feathers specially designed to cut down on wind noise while permitting sound waves to pass through.

These feathers behave like the foam covers you see on microphones at outdoor rallies, where breezes cause uncovered mikes to thump.

Some diving birds, such as loons and penguins, have strong feathers covering their ear-holes, to protect delicate inner ears from intense water pressure.

Once again, Creation has shown just how special birds are.

Birds have a keen sense of hearing, more so than you and me.

Their ears are located on each side of the head, just below and in back of the eyes.

In most birds the ear openings are positioned symmetrically on either side of the head.

In some birds the openings are asymmetrical in size and position (owls).

Birds with asymmetric ear positions can better judge the distance and direction from which sound is coming.

(Image credit to 'Tetrapod Zoology'.)

(Notice the ear holes, how one is lower than the other.)

Some raptors, such as harriers, owls, and forest falcons, have feathers on the face that surround their eyes in the shape of a disk.

This facial disk helps the raptor in capturing
and directing sound waves to their ears.

These special features, combined with the ability to bob the head up and down and/or rotate the head in almost a full circle, allows a bird to locate sound coming from any direction.

On most birds you are not able to see the ears because the small holes are covered with feathers.

Birds depend on their sense of hearing for communication, finding prey, finding mates and detecting danger.

(Image Credit to 'All Things Nature'.)

Birds have good ears but they tend to hear things differently to us.

Researchers have discovered and are still learning things about birds.

For example:

Within sounds birds recognise and remember sounds in absolute pitch whereas humans perceive sounds via relative pitch.

Very few humans can hear and remember absolute pitch.

Relative pitch however allows us to hear a tune in one octave and still recognise the tune in a different octave.

Birds cannot do this.

They do however recognize 'timbre' (a fundamental note combined with harmonies).

Recognizing timbre and harmonic variations gives birds great versatility in the sounds that they can respond to, and in some cases reproduce.

Birds also hear shorter notes than we can.

Humans process sounds in bytes about 1/20 of a second long whereas birds discriminate up to 1/200 of a second.

This means where we hear one sound only, a bird may hear as many as ten separate notes.

Some birds such as Pigeons can hear much lower sounds than us.

Once Again, Research Shows:

The range of hearing in many species of birds is comparable with that of us humans.

Having a greatest sensitivity between 2000 and 4000 hertz (cycles per second).

This is partly why bird song is so useful in bird identification it is easy for us to hear, and partly why we find bird song so pleasant to our ears.

In birds as a whole, the known hearing ranges vary from a lower limit of below 100 hertz to over 29000 (though not all birds have this range).

The common Mallard (Anus platyrhynchus) for instance has a range from 300 hz to 8000 hz.

Some birds have hearing much more sensitive than ours.

Owls not only are more sensitive to small sounds but have asymmetrical ears (one ear being lower on the skull than the other) this means sounds from a single source reach the ears at slightly different times.

This gives the owl the equivalent of binocular hearing, allowing them to pinpoint the source of a sound extremely accurately.

Studies and research with Barn Owls (Tyto alba), shows that they can locate and catch small mammals in complete darkness using only their hearing.

Several species of owls can hear and pin point a small rodent under the snow and with stealthy accuracy, pick off their meal and the the rodent never knew what hit them.

Finally, a number of species of owls have tufts of feathers which look like ears and give rise to names like 'Long Eared Owl' and 'Short Eared Owl'.

These 'ears' are not ears at all, however, and have nothing to do with hearing.

More Research Shows:

Birds start using calls early in their lives, in some species even before they are hatched.

Quail chicks use calls to communicate with each other and their mother from inside their eggs.

They are able this way to synchronise their hatching so that they all emerge from the eggs within the space of a couple of hours.

Pelican chicks tell their mum if they are too hot or cold from inside the eggs.

Chicks also listen to their parents while inside the eggs.

This way, some species come to recognize their parents even before emerging form the eggs.

Some birds such as Mallards have special maternal calls that they give while incubating the eggs so that after hatching the mother only has to give this call to have the chicks rush to her for protection.

Nature provides this keen hearing to our feathered friends.

Do you ever wonder when watching the nature shows, how an individual bird amongst thousands can hear and detect her babies?

How the birds in your backyard may sound the same, but one can easily detect offspring or a parent.

Yes, Creation, is pretty Amazing.

Birds use sounds other than those created by their vocal chords.

Sounds can be created by stamping as in Coots, or by clacking the mandibles together as in Frigate birds, Albatrosses and Storks.

Birds also use their wings to create sounds, simply by clapping them together as the wood pigeon or by having modified feathers which vibrate at a set frequency when exposed.

Woodcock use this during courting.

Other birds which make sounds with their wings include Mute Swans, Broad-tailed Hummingbirds, and other species throughout the world.

Perhaps the best known of these percussive sounds is the drumming of woodpeckers.

Each woodpecker, in the species tested, has its own drumming pattern so male and female birds can easily recognize each other while they are out foraging.

Woodpeckers can also hear the chewing of insects and larvae within and under the tree bark.

So keen is the hearing, they know right where to peck away for lunch.

How often have you seen a robin or other birds with there head cocked sideways?

The bird isn't looking for a worm as you may think, it is listening for them as they crawl around.

Well, it is time to fly for now.

Before I go, her is your positive thought for the week.

God Bless.

"What we can or cannot do, what we consider possible or impossible, is rarely a function of our true capability. It is more likely a function of our beliefs about who we are".

Tony Robbins

The human mind and thought process are powerful.

“If you can?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”

Mark 9:23

I can do all this through Christ Jesus who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:13

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our

Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers.

Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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