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August 2020

Vol. 48, No. 4

Hearing Aids for Birders

Timothy P. Walker


Blackpoll Warblers sing in a narrow range above 7 kHz. Photograph by "WarblerLady." (CC BY-ND 2.0.

In June of 2019, my wife Nancy and I attended the Rangeley Lakes Birding Festival in Maine. One of the highlights was a guided drive up a logging road to search for breeding Blackpoll Warblers. Nancy was the first, and only, member of our group to hear them singing on territory. Our guide, a local wildlife biologist specializing in this bird, was not convinced they were present until Nancy caught them in her scope with their mouths open, singing away. It was a sobering moment as our guide came to grips with the reality of his hearing loss. It was cold comfort knowing I was not the only one of a "certain age" who had lost my high frequency hearing range.

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