A long-eared owl perched .

Do Birds Have Ears? (We Asked An Expert!​​​​​​​)

Have you ever wondered, “do birds have ears?” Well, if you have, this is the article for you. In this article, we’ll do our best to not only answer the question, but explore it in depth, so you get a better understanding of what’s going on with birds and their ear situation.

Do birds have ears?

People have long known that birds can hear, but did you know that they have ears? Birds do not have an outer ear appendage or (pinna), like humans or mammals do.

Instead, a bird’s ear openings are covered by contour feathers that protect the inner ear from dirt and moisture. The “pinna” or outer ear, is the part of your ear that is most visible.

It can be found on most mammals. Humans have an outer ear which acts as a funnel for sound waves to enter the inner ear. Birds do not have an outer ear in this form, but they do still possess many of the essential parts that make up an inner ear, allowing them to hear.

How do birds hear?

Birds hear sounds with their ears, and their ears are located on the sides of the head. A bird has one ear opening on each side of its head.

The external opening is called the auditory meatus. Inside the feather-covered opening is a soft, thin layer of feathers that guard against dirt, moisture and small insects.

How do birds pick up sound?

Sound is one of the primary ways birds communicate, and many avian species produce two sounds that are critical for social interaction and mating rituals: songs and calls.

Understanding how a bird picks up these sounds begins with the ear opening. The ear opening, or external auditory meatus, is connected to the eardrum, which is pushed back and forth as sound waves hit it.

Those sound waves then travel through the petrosal bone to the internal ear, consisting of the cochlea (for hearing) and the hollow semicircular canals (for equilibrium). From there, the sound signals travel through nerve fibers to the bird’s brain to be processed.

What are bird ears called?

Birds ears are called pinna (or auricle). They’re located on the left and right side of the head, and they serve to direct sound into the ear. 

The pinna (or auricle) of birds are small, stiff and almost none-existent flaps of skin, feathers and cartilage that are connected to the bird’s skull on each side.

Do birds have external ears?

Birds can hear, but they do not have external ears. They have ear openings on the side of their heads. The ears are covered by a thin layer of feathers called auriculars.

Why don’t birds have external ears?

Birds do have ears, but they are hidden under feathers and are tough to see, that is why we call them ear openings.

The reason birds don’t have external ears is that an external ear would not  guard against small insects, dirt, and moisture, which are the worst enemies of a bird’s hearing. 

How do birds hear without ears?

Birds do not have external ears like most mammals, instead they have ear openings located on the sides of their heads, covered with a thin layer of feathers called auriculars. 

The ear opening is connected to the tympanic membrane, or eardrum, which vibrates in reaction to sound. Sound waves are transferred through the petrosal bone from the inner ear to the brain.

Do birds have sensitive ears?

Most birds have the sense of hearing well-developed, but hearing sensitivities vary among species. Some species hear sounds inaudible to humans.

Others can hear high-pitched sounds produced by bats that would be extremely irritating to humans. A songbird’s hearing is most sensitive to midrange pitches between 500 Hz and 2 kHz–sounds within the birds’ normal vocal range.

Hearing sensitivity of most birds decreases sharply with increasing frequency above 2 kHz, and sensitivity peaks at different sound levels depending on species and vocalization type (singing or vocalizing in pain).

The narrow auditory range is due to a lack of feathers surrounding the ear openings, which help filter out unwanted high frequencies in other animals.

Birds’ acute hearing allows them to detect differences in sound quality that provide additional information about their environment–such as understanding differences in harmonics they produce while singing–or it enhances more basic perceptions–such as when they need to capture moving prey.

Because of a bird’s excellent ability to discriminate among different tones, sounds can easily be used to communicate messages such as territorial defense or warning of predators.

Do birds have bones in their ears?

Birds do have bones in their ears. The avian ear is composed of small ossicles called the columella and a periotic bone. The balance organs are located within this bone.

Do birds have asymmetrical ears?

Birds do indeed have asymmetrical ears! Birds do not have an external auditory canal, which is the outer ear in humans. The main job of the outer human ear is to collect sound waves and channel them down toward our eardrums.

Birds therefore have a different design. Sound waves will travel through air spaces located beneath a bird’s feathers to reach its external auditory canal. The auditory canal is then able to channel sound to inner ears, located in its skull.

There are some variations among birds, but the inner ear of most species has two small holes that allow for differential hearing (ability to hear sounds from multiple directions simultaneously), just like humans.

But unlike humans, who hear via both ears simultaneously and are able to pinpoint the direction of sound by interpreting how both ears receive it, birds can separate sounds in order to perceive where they came from thanks to their asymmetrical ears!

Two common nightingales singing while perched on a tree.
Image by Dikky Oesin from Pixabay

People also Ask

Can birds hear me?

Yes, birds can hear humans and may respond to specific sounds or calls. Some species of birds will even learn to distinguish between certain people or sounds in their immediate environment, especially if the sounds are associated with feeding time or a favorite treat.

Can birds hear well?

Most birds have hearing that is most receptive in the 1 kHz and 4 kHz range, but their full range is almost the same as humans: 20 Hz – 20 kHz. However, most birds’ hearing is best suited to recognizing sounds made by other birds, not human voices.

Do blackbirds have ears?

Yes, like all birds, blackbirds have ears – although they are not always easy to see. Each of the two sides of their heads has a sort of ‘ear hole’ – called an auricle – which collects sound from the air.

This opening is covered by a few feathers or a patch of skin. The ear holes lead on to the middle ear and then on to the inner ear, which contains fluid and nerves that send sound messages along to the rest of the brain.

Do pigeons have ears?

Pigeons don’t have external ears like other birds and mammals. Their ears are internal and are protected by a flap of skin at the side of their heads (behind the eye). The ear opening is tiny, just a few millimeters in diameter and covered with feathers.

Do chickens have ears?

While chickens do have ear openings, they do not have external ears like us. They have an inner ear, just like humans, but nothing on the outside.

When we talk about chickens having “ears” what we are referring to are their earlobes – the small knob that hangs on the side of a chicken’s head.

Do parrots have ears?

Parrots hear through special openings on the sides of their head called “external auditory meatus.” These openings are located behind the eyes and in front of the parrot’s cheek feathers. If a dorsal feather is pulled aside, you will see two small folds. These are membranes covering the openings.

Do love birds have ears?

Love birds can hear, yes. Their ears are located on either side of the head, but because their feathers cover them, it means we can’t see them.

They don’t have the external earlobes you see on mammals like humans and dogs. Instead, a lovebird’s ear opening is covered with specialized feathers that protect the ear from debris. 

Related Post: How to Attract Lovebirds to My Yard? 8 Simple Tricks!

Do birds have teeth?

Birds have bills, not teeth. Some birds, like parrots and falcons, have sharp ridges in their bills that help them tear food as they clench it. Most birds swallow their food whole. The muscular part of their stomach called the gizzard grinds up food before it enters the intestines for digestion.

Check out these articles: