Just as we do, our feathered friends rely heavily on their acute senses to help them locate food, find a suitable nesting location and protect themselves against predators. Arguably one of their most important senses would be their sense of hearing.
Location & Characteristics of Bird’s Ears
A bird’s sense of hearing is actually quite acute given the particular shape of their ears and heads. Their ears are conical or funnel-shaped, allowing them to concentrate the sounds around them and keep them alert. Many species of birds also sport a particular shape of the head to aid their hearing as well, owls for example; sport facial discs that further aid in the directing of sounds to their ears.
Most bird’s ears are located just below their eyes and are covered with very soft feathers known as auriculars. The auricular feathers are often organized to also help direct sound into the ear of the bird, and the auricular feathers of some species can be used as an identification aid to birders, as they can serve as a very good field marking on a variety of species.
How Birds Use Their Ears
Birds use their ears and acute hearing for a variety of daily activities and can vary quite greatly depending on the species. Birds are very sensitive to pitch and tone, and often use their sounds and calls, as well as the sounds and calls from other birds to help them navigate, forage and protect themselves from danger. Each chirp, call or song comes with a different tone for each unique situation, and birds can easily decipher between a warning call, a friendly call or a territorial call.
Your backyard birds can also grow very fond or weary of the sounds you make while enjoying your yard or maintaining backyard feeders and bird baths. Many birds love the sound of lightly splashing water, often achieved by changing your birdbath water. For this reason, many bird baths on the market today feature a small fountain or pump that will keep the water running and attract birds to the bath.