When you see a pigeon, you see the round head, two big eyes, and a beak. There are no ears to be seen. Still, you make the slightest sound and the bird flies away.
How do they hear us? Do they have ears? Or do they use sensory powers to protect themselves? Where are these ears located?
This guide has all your questions answered.
Where Are A Pigeon’s Ears?
Yes, pigeons do have ears. However, they are not protruding ears as humans have – that would look pretty weird, wouldn’t it?
Given the ears are covered by feathers, it is unlikely that you will notice them at all, and that is probably why you are wondering, do pigeons have ears?
Instead, pigeons have an inner ear located on their heads but hidden beneath their feathers.
It is located where you would expect an ear to be on the head, on the side – a bit below and to the side of the eyes.
The actual structure of the ear is a lot like a human ear in most ways.
Related Read: Why do Pigeons Bob their Heads?
How Pigeons Hear?
Now we have established that pigeons do have ears, how exactly do they hear? As mentioned, a pigeon’s ear is not that different from ours.
There is the external opening on the outside of the head, the part concealed by feathers. This tunnels the sound down into the middle ear.
The feathers that cover the pigeon’s ears are called auriculars. These feathers are swept backward from the eyes and down above the ears, stopping the wind noise as they fly.
These ears are very different from humans or mammal ears which have an external structure.
The external structure plays an important role in guiding the sound for humans and animals but pigeons are birds. They fly and their external structures may only hinder the flying.
A bird’s head plays a very important role in helping them register the sound.
When a bird hits a pigeon, it bounces off or bends, directly passing away. It hits one ear differently and another ear differently.
Related Read: Do pigeons attack other birds?
This difference helps the pigeons to identify whether the sound is coming from the right, left, above, or below.
The bird’s middle ear is where the eardrum is located. The sound travels down the external opening and creates vibrations in the eardrum that are then sent along with a piece of bone structure to the inner ear.
The inner ear is where the sound vibrations are converted and interpreted into sounds. The cilia (like little hairs) turn the vibrations into nerve impulses. These can then be interpreted by the brain to make sense of the sound.
Although the outer ear is covered by feathers, it does not mean the bird hears any less efficiently. In fact, the oval-like shape of their heads helps them to receive a lot more sound waves.
On observing a pigeon, you may also notice that they tilt their head to pick up on specific sounds. They are tilting their head to position the ear best to receive the noise. So, they actually have very good hearing.
Is Pigeon Hearing Better Than Human’s?
Yes, pigeons and every bird hear better than humans. In fact, It is their best defense after vision.
Pigeons can hear even ultrasonic waves and react according to the sounds. They make sounds of different frequencies to communicate with each other.
A pigeon when asking for help, makes a different sound, when it is hunting, it makes a difference, and when it is calling for its mate, it’s different. Pigeons can decipher the frequencies based on the call of help or other purposes.
Pigeons can even sense bad weather based on the wind and the sound of the air. Thus, they act accordingly and hide.
Apart from pigeons, owls and other nocturnal birds use hearing a lot to navigate during the night.
Why are sound and hearing important?
Hearing is very important for pigeons. The birds use hearing to listen for danger and to make noise to warn the other birds. It is therefore an important sense used for survival.
Additionally, the birds communicate with each other through song and noise. Pigeons make noise to the other birds to assert their territory. Pigeons also use their interesting bird song and unique noises to attract a mate.
Related Read: Interesting birds that look like a pigeon.
Ears for Balance
A pigeon’s ears are not just for hearing but also to help them balance too. The semicircular canals in the ears help them to not only stand or hop but also to orient themselves when they fly.
Birds can even suffer from damage to their hearing as we can. The hair-like cells that are sound receptors can be damaged from loud noises. It is thought that this damage can repair over time, but ongoing exposure to loud noises may create more permanent damage.
If you think about where pigeons live, it would not be hard to consider that they may be regularly exposed to hearing damaging noises. They are often in well-populated areas such as noisy train stations or even airports.
Can I See A Pigeon’s Ears?
No, you can’t. They have no external lobe which is visible. There is a simple ear that is covered by feathers.
Every bird or pigeon has a sensory mechanism that allows them to hear sounds. Visible or not, they have ears and a hearing mechanism just like humans. So, the next time a pigeon is startled by you, don’t mock it for not having ears. Remember, they can hear and also remember faces.