Do Birds Have Ears?

Ever wondered about the hearing capabilities of our feathered friends, the birds? Contrary to what you may think, birds actually do have ears! This fascinating blog is dedicated to exploring and understanding bird’s unique hearing mechanisms.

Let’s dive in and decode the mystery behind avian ears together.

Key Takeaways

  • Birds have ears, but their ear structure is different from humans. They don’t have external ears like we do.
  • Bird ears are funnel – shaped openings on the sides of their heads, covered by soft feathers called auriculars.
  • Birds use their hearing to locate prey and find food, with owls having exceptional hearing skills for hunting at night.
  • While birds cannot hear ultrasonic sounds, they can detect a wide range of frequencies audible to humans.


Do Birds Have Ears?

Yes, birds have ears! They are not like ours though. Birds don’t have ear flaps or pinnae like dogs and cats do. Their ears sit on each side of their heads. There, you can find little openings shaped like funnels.

These lead to the middle and inner parts of their ears.

The openings get cover by soft feathers known as auriculars for safety. They help funnel sounds into the bird’s ear too! The way a bird tilts its head can change how it hears things around it.

For example, owls use this trick a lot when they hunt at night.

The Structure of Avian Ears

Avian ears have a unique structure, with an outer ear consisting of auriculars and specialized feathers covering the ears, a middle ear connected to the tympanic membrane and meatus, and an inner ear comprising the cochlea and nerve receptors.

The Importance of Moving Their Heads

Birds move their heads a lot, and it’s not just for fun. Their ear position plays a big role in hearing or locating noise. Each bird ear picks up different sound frequencies. This is like having two radios tuned to separate stations!

Differences between the sounds tell birds where noises come from. Even tiny changes in head tilt can change what they hear which helps them locate prey or stay away from predators.

Owls are masters of this technique with their asymmetrical ear openings that pick up varied frequencies.

Bird Ear Sensitivity

Birds hear very well. Their ears pick up many sounds we can’t. Birds have an inner ear and a middle ear like us, but no outer ear to catch sound waves. So, they make use of funnel-shaped openings on each side of their head instead.

These funnel-shaped holes lie just behind and below the eyes. They find protection under soft feathers called auriculars that don’t have barbs. Owls are one kind of bird with great hearing skills.

They hunt at night using their sharp hearing to find prey in the dark. Some other birds also have flaps near the ears to know where noise comes from – either above or below them.

How Well Can Birds Hear?

Birds that hear best include owls, which rely on their sensitive hearing to locate and capture night prey.

Birds That Hear Best

Some bird species have exceptional hearing abilities. Owls, for example, have incredibly acute hearing that helps them locate their prey at night. Their facial discs and bill shape work together to capture sound signals effectively.

Birds of prey like hawks and eagles also have specialized adaptations in their ears. They have flaps in front of their ear openings which help them determine whether sounds are coming from above or below them, allowing for accurate hunting strategies.

These birds rely on their excellent hearing skills to be successful predators in their environments.

Can Birds Hear Ultrasonic Sounds?

Birds have amazing hearing abilities, but they cannot hear ultrasonic sounds. No bird species has been found to hear sounds above 20 kHz. They can still detect a wide range of frequencies that are audible to humans, allowing them to communicate and find prey.

However, ultrasonic sounds used by some animals like bats are beyond the hearing capabilities of birds. So when it comes to high-pitched sounds, birds just don’t have the ability to pick up on them like other animals can.

The Role of Bird Hearing

Bird hearing plays a crucial role in helping birds find food and maintain balance, making it an essential tool for their survival.

Use in Finding Food

Birds have an amazing ability to use their hearing in finding food. They rely on their keen sense of hearing to locate potential prey, such as insects or small rodents. When a bird hears the sounds made by its prey, it can accurately determine the direction and distance of the sound source.

This allows them to quickly zero in on their next meal, even if it’s hidden among branches or under vegetation. By using their ears as important tools for hunting, birds demonstrate just how vital this sense is for their survival in the wild.

Bird Hearing as Balance Organs

Birds also use their hearing as balance organs. The inner ear not only helps them process sound but also plays a crucial role in maintaining their balance. By detecting changes in sound waves and vibrations, birds can stay steady on tree branches or walk steadily along the ground without losing their equilibrium.

This ability to rely on hearing for balance allows birds to navigate complex environments and perform precise movements with ease. So, while birds are famous for their beautiful songs and keen sense of hearing, they are also using this sense to keep themselves upright and stable.


In conclusion, birds do have ears, but their ear structure is different from humans. They don’t have external ears like we do, but they have funnel-shaped openings on the sides of their heads.

These unique ear structures allow birds to hear with incredible clarity and precision. So next time you hear a bird singing or chirping, know that they’re using their amazing ears to communicate and navigate the world around them!


1. Do birds have ears?

Yes, birds do have ears, but they are not easy to see because they don’t have external ears like humans.

2. How do birds hear without visible ears?

Birds have small openings called ear holes located behind their eyes. These ear holes allow sound waves to enter their inner ears and be processed for hearing.

3. Can birds hear well?

Yes, birds have a good sense of hearing. They can detect a wide range of sounds including high-pitched frequencies that humans cannot hear.

4. Why do some bird species use their feathers to direct sound towards their ears?

Some bird species, like owls, have specialized facial feathers that help direct sound towards their ear holes to enhance their ability to locate prey based on sound cues in the environment.

Julian Goldie - Owner of

Julian Goldie

I'm a bird enthusiast and creator of Chipper Birds, a blog sharing my experience caring for birds. I've traveled the world bird watching and I'm committed to helping others with bird care. Contact me at [email protected] for assistance.