The Dawn Chorus – nature’s lesson on hearing protection

I’m no twitcher, but come Spring – as the birdies shrug off their winter blues, blow the dust off their Barry White box set and get the dawn chorus habit – the world seems a better place than in those barren, cold winter mornings.

Birdsong Dawn Chorus
How loud is the Dawn Chorus anyway?

This morning’s was a particular treat, so I’ve recorded it here. Not terribly interesting as a bit of video and I don’t have the first idea what each bird call is. But it is striking that what seems like a loud noise is actually very quiet at only around 55-70dB, peaking at 80dB. (For comparison, a quiet room is rated at around 65dB).

And because most birdcalls are high pitched, this is exactly the section of the human hearing range that is typically damaged by noise from music or industrial noise etc. This means that Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) is highly likely to damage your ability to hear birdsong – or parts of any other music for that matter. (For reference, NIHL Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) is irreversible and is considered significant at around 25dB. It is worth also noting that hearing loss usually creeps up on you – and at some time after the event (see our pages on hearing loss here) – so managing your ears’ exposure to noise and your hearing performance is very difficult.)

So what does birdsong teach us about our hearing?

  1. There are some benefits to getting up early!
  2. Losing your hearing undermines your ability to hear the best sounds of life
  3. Twitching may not be your passion now (or ever…), but the quality of your life is going to depend – to a greater or lesser extent – on the quality of your hearing
  4. It is never too late to protect your hearing
  5. The only way to “solve” NIHL to take preventative measures – i.e. use hearing protection
  6. If you are worried about your hearing, talk to a specialist audiologist, such as from AIHHP – they don’t bite

If nothing else, I hope you like the recording!


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