Birds’ Inner Ears Can Recover Lost Hearing

American robin, watching and listening (photo by Joel Kluger via Flickr Creative Commons license)

12 August 2021

On Monday when I wrote about the handsome trig (red-headed bush cricket) that sings loudly at 7000 Hertz, I mentioned that upper range hearing loss prevents me from hearing him. Hearing aids help a little but nothing can fix it. My hearing will never return to its youthful ability.

Birds don’t have this problem. If the loss is in their inner ear, their bodies repair the damage. Learn more in this vintage article: Birds Can Recover Lost Hearing.

Perhaps birds can recover their hearing because their lives depend on it. Gene Henderson reminded me of a high-pitched danger call that American robins make. At 7200 to 8400 Hertz it’s now outside my hearing range. Can you hear the four calls in the recording below at 2,5,8 and 11 seconds? They look like checkmarks on the sonogram.

American robin danger call (recording by Kate St. John)

(photo by Joel Kluger on Flickr, recording by Kate St. John)

4 thoughts on “Birds’ Inner Ears Can Recover Lost Hearing

  1. Could not hear them on my phone, even at full volume. Could easily hear them on my laptop, even at medium volume. So, if it’s not one, maybe it’s another.

    Using this link you can test your hearing range. For best results use a head-set not earbuds so all other noise is removed. At the lowest frequency I started with the volume turned all the way up but had to bring down quite a bit only to take it up again at the much higher frequency. It was interesting that when I could not hear at the higher frequency that at certain even higher frequencies I could start to hear it again fading in and out at specific very high frequencies. The amazing ear. Just imagine what a Hound dog can hear. I can’t.

    1. Very interesting, Gene! I agree that it’s bizarre to hear very low frequency and then have a gap. It got so loud at 4000 Hertz that I had to turn my speakers down to 10% but that meant I stopped hearing at 6200 Hertz. When I turned the speakers up to 50% I could hear until 8000 Hert when the frequency matched the ringing in my ears & I couldn’t tell which was which.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *