Why don’t birds have ears?

Birdsong is not just a hobby of karaoke. It’s your own communication way and can range from a strategy to mark territory to a way of attracting partners for mating. Be that as it may, what is clear is that they must have a good ear. Singing would be of no use to them if there were no other birds to listen to it. However, if we look at them, it seems that they don’t have ears. Some owls yes, but in general most birds seem to lack them. What is this about?

Well, the truth is that, as one might expect, it does have ears. Not having ears is not the same as not having ears. Birds do have a auditory system open to the outside. In fact, if we look at some birds we can see it, although it does not resemble the typical ears of mammals.

What happens is that, for various reasons, a auditory pavilion It would bring them nothing but trouble. What’s more, not even owls have ears. What we often confuse with them are plumes of feathers that have nothing to do with hearing. But then a new question arises: how do birds hear?

The history of bird ears

The ears, also known as pinna or pinnaemake up the only visible part of the ear. In animals that have them, they help channel sound vibrations to optimize hearing.

They are very useful, of course, but they can also have certain drawbacks. For example, they represent a large opening to the outside, which facilitates the entry of foreign bodies or the appearance of infections. In the case of human beings, for example, we have defense systems, such as the wax. But not all animals have it. Therefore, if it is not going to give them remarkable benefits, they can evolve without ears.

As for the ears, they are generally connected to the outside through small holes located on the sides of the head and covered by feathers to prevent the entry of foreign bodies. These are known as auditory meatus and they are connected to the eardrum, which is pushed back and forth as sound waves hit it.


each bird is a world

All these traits are at a general level. However, each bird has its own characteristics when it comes to hearing. For example, it has been seen that acuatic birdswhich must dive to search for food, show, among other changes, a reduction in the entrance areas to the eardrum.

On the other hand, it has been seen that paleognathic birds, such as ostriches or emus, they have a larger and unprotected ear opening. Also, no muscles are attached to these openings, as is the case with other birds.

Owls don’t have ears either, but they do have a very keen sense of hearing.

As for the supposed ears of owls, not even all of them have them. These false ears are found only in birds of the gender Asian, known as eared owls. Have plumes of feathers erect on the sides of the head, but they are not ears.

Now, as with the rest of the birds, the fact that they do not have ears does not mean that they do not have good hearing. In fact, of the kind Asian or not, owls have a very acute sense of hearing. This is possible thanks to the concave shape of its head, which acts as a kind of satellite dish and carries the sound towards the ears.

In addition, some have the holes in their non-symmetrical ears. For example, those of the family Strigidae they have one higher than the other, so that they can calculate how high up the sounds they detect are. The same thing happens with having one on each side of the head. Human beings know if a sound is coming from one side or the other depending on which ear picks it up first. Owls go further and can specify the height.

So no, birds don’t have ears, but that doesn’t matter. Many of them hear a thousand times better than you and me.