I Wrote a Haiku Today

Golden-crowned Kinglet

As I go forward
I will measure my decline
Solely in birdsong

Okay, so it’s not a great haiku, but it meets the 5-7-5 rule. It’s a lovely revelation really, and one I came to on my morning walk today. Maybe I should explain. 

As we age and our hearing declines, certain birdsongs begin to fall away. There’s a big name for it: presbycusis. The simple definition is: high frequency hearing loss. The brain’s ability to filter out background noise changes too. Sensitivity increases. But it’s that pitch that is the bugger. Consonants become harder to hear than vowels. High pitch doorbells and dryer buzzers blend into the white noise. It’s harder to hear violin and flute. 

But back to the birds. 

Bird sounds are composed of high and low pitched notes, so in a lot of cases, we will notice our decline “in pieces”. The highest notes will disappear and we might catch the notes that drop in pitch. The first bird song we are likely to lose is that of the golden-crowned kinglet. It’s an ascending and accelerating series of up to 14 very high-pitched notes that end in a musical warble. It will be the first.Then comes the brown creeper. And cedar waxwings, warblers and sparrows after that. 

Brown creeper

As many ways as there are to measure decline, mine will be this. It came to me on my walk around the refuge early this morning. Just me and the birds (and the coyote again!). 

I heard kinglets and creepers today. 
I’m fine. Whew. 

Chalk one up for me and the birds. Here was my morning walk.

Black-capped Chickadee
Northern Flicker
Ring-necked Duck
Red-breasted Sapsucker
Wile-E
Wile-E
Wile-E
Lunch
Lunch
American Bittern
American Bittern
Common Redpoll -A lifer
Common Redpoll

22 Comments on “I Wrote a Haiku Today

  1. Ahh, yes. I imagined I was not alone. I have a deaf ear from birth, so I’m on a fast track, methinks. A “lifer” is a reference to my bird list. I track every bird I’ve seen or heard well enough to get a positive ID. I have 146 and counting! I’d never seen a redpoll. They hang with pine siskins too and now I’ll know where to look. And I love the resident bitterns.

  2. This is such a great post! I have been worrying about my hearing, and I think this is a great system to keep track. I had too much unprotected noise exposure in the military and I can tell my hearing is going. But I have kinglets and creepers right here at my place: I see them all the time. I’m pretty sure I don’t know what a brown creeper sounds like, but the kinglets make such a wonderful racket. I guess that means I’m good for the moment. I hadn’t heard of a redpoll either. What is a “lifer?” They do definitely remind me of Lesser Goldfinches, hanging from the branch like that. Beautiful shot of the flicker, gorgeous coyote. This is a good collection. I’ve never seen the Redbreasted Sapsucker or the American Bittern – gosh what a gorgeous stripey bird.

  3. Lovely in …
    oh! so! many! ways…*
    for me, the last line in the haiku would be, “on walks not taken…” Infirmity is a thief.

  4. Perhaps my favorite post so far. Beautiful photos, great writing, with new details.

    • Thank you so much! Aging isn’t for sissies, but we can keep learning right up until that last tick of the clock.

  5. I love that I can hear the birds again with my hearing aides. And I hate the hearing aides. (Especially when combined with a mask.) And so I don’t wear them when I’m not around people. And so I don’t hear the birds. Love the haiku. So much. And the photos.

    • I love that you can hear the birds again too. That was the first thing I noticed the first time I woke up at 3ofE. It was like a beautiful symphony. You’re very lucky to live where you do. I can brace myself for many losses in this life, but I couldn’t imagine losing birdsong.

  6. I love how a poem comes out of nowhere and lands, just right. I resist getting hearing aids, but perhaps this will convince me. It’s one thing to not hear my husband, but another to not hear birds! 🙂 We heard a full concert today, which was so heart lifting. Beautiful pics, healthy coyote!, I want to see a bittern some day, and I’ve never even heard of a Redpoll, however common it is. Thanks for another dose of Nisqually.

    • Nisqually has been quite generous with wildlife sightings lately. That coyote looks really healthy. Today was such a coup! I hope we get to go birding there soon. The redpoll was a lifer for me. They hang high in the branches with flocks of lesser goldfinches and pine siskins. A birder I met pointed out both male and female to me. It was a good morning. As for poetry and hearing aids? Yes, please.

  7. This hit me! I thought we didn’t have crickets. Then I went to the bedroom with my hearing aids in and heard crickets! I’ll have to check the songs of the birds you mention and see what I hear. I love my hearing aids! And great photos. You must have found a replacement for your loved but broken Nikon. Thank you for posting these for us to appreciate.

    • Thanks, Bailey! I think I will do whatever possible to continue hearing these sweet songs. I felt serenaded all day today. The song of the brown creeper is really surprisingly lovely. As for the camera … the broken one will be returned to me tomorrow. I’ve been borrowing cameras from generous friends. I am so fortunate.

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