Monday, September 14, 2009

Listen Up!

Howdy Folks! I hope you are getting outside and seeing more with your Owl Eyes. In addition to spending a good portion of our days in tunnel vision due to over stimulation, we also tend to have tunnel hearing. There is so much "noise" in our daily lives that we can tend to ignore so much of what is going on around us in terms of sound. And, just like our eyesight, we also tend to listen to only what we think is important.

As humans we have some wonderful skills, such as whistling, the ability to walk upright, and writing poetry. We do not however have some of the unique abilities of animals like dogs and deer who can move their ears independently of each other and listen in different directions at the same time.

Teaching ourselves and our kids to hear more can open up a whole new way to experience nature. Many animals, both predators and prey, use their hearing to stay alive by helping to find food or to avoid being found. In this posting we will explore the use of "Deer Ears", which is a technique that we can use to enhance our hearing.

To begin with, face forward and cup your hands behind your ears while slightly pushing your ears forward. This allows our head to take on a more "dish" shape like that of an owls head. This allows more sounds to be directed into our ears. Practice placing your hands behind your ears and then removing them to hear the difference. Also try this with your eyes closed. Does having your eyes closed effect your hearing?

You can also cup both of your hands in front of your ears and aim them backwards. This will allow you to hear sounds behind you better. And if you want to, place one hand facing forward, and the other one facing backwards. This will allow you to simulate what deer, cats, dogs, and other mammals can do by moving their ears independently. Practice all of these variations with your eyes open and closed and see if you notice a difference in what you hear and pay attention to.

You can add another dimension to your increased hearing by adjusting the angle of your ears. With your hands cupped behind your ears, slightly turn your head to one side. Do the sounds change? If so, how? Turn your head the other way. Share your results with us in the comments.

We will explore our other senses in the future, but in the next few posts I will be talking about a few of the common things that present some hazards to our wilderness exploration! So, until next time, keep working on your owl eyes and deer ears! And make sure you are still stopping occasionally to check in with your inner compass.

Next Time: Nature's Revenge! Some potential hazards out there!

Nature Nugget:
Since we are practicing our Deer Ears, here is some information on the three major species of deer we have here in North America. We have the Whitetail Deer (Odocoileus virginianus), the Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus), and the Blacktail Deer or Pacific coastal mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus columbianus). There are three other offshoots of these basic species: the Sitka Deer in Alaska, the Coues Deer in the Southwest, and the Florida Key Deer.

Deer are wonderful animals and are great to watch in the wild. In the spring keep your owl eyes open for mother deer with their young, usually one or two fawns. When young, deer have white spots on their fur to aid in camouflage. The white spots resemble dappled sunlight on the forest floor. Young deer will keep these spots until their first winter.

Sometimes deer can be very unafraid of humans and will allow people to get rather close. PLEASE remember that deer are wild animals no matter how tame they appear. Do not try and pet them or hand feed them. They can become aggressive very quickly and can attack by using their front feet which have very sharp hooves. Admire them from a distance.

Website to explore:
The Encyclopedia of Life. An amazing website working on documenting all the species that have been identified so far. This project is guided by the work of E.O. Wilson, and his goal is " electronic page for each species of organism on Earth...".

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