Do Pigeons Have Ears?

Pigeons do have ears.

Like all birds their ears are not external, instead, they have an ear-opening which is hidden beneath feathers on the side of their head.

The ear opening is positioned in exactly the place you would imagine an external ear would go if they did have them, slightly behind and below the eyes.

A pigeons ear is made up of three parts:

  • External ear – pigeons and birds do not really have much of an external ear. It consists of a small opening where a tube carries soundwaves to the eardrum in the middle ear.
  • Middle ear – Essentially the eardrum.
  • Inner ear – The inner ear is the complicated sensory receptor that decodes sound and helps them balance.

Ear structure is very important in humans and animals for funneling sound in and helping us to hear things clearly as well as work out exactly where the sound is coming from.

You could easily presume that a bird with a small ear opening covered by feathers may have trouble hearing compared to us.

This is not the case, birds actually have a very keen sense of hearing which is often far better than most mammals, this is for two reasons:

1. The Shape Of A Pigeons Head Helps It Hear

Birds heads have rounded, almost oval, edges.

This means that when sound waves hit them a larger percentage of the waves pass through the skull rather than bounce off.

The bird can then measure the sound using both internal ears.

By observing the difference in volume in each ear the bird can then tell exactly where the sound is coming from.

This is could be an important factor in how pigeons navigate long distances.

2. The Feathers Covering The Ear Are Different

Most feathers have a grid-like structure that helps trap air to make flight easy, if these were covering the ear they would significantly muffle sounds.

Aa different type of feather known as auricular feathers grow over the ear.

This has a more fan-like structure with larger gaps between the fibers which allows sound to pass through virtually unobstructed.

You can clearly see the difference between the two feather types here.

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