Owl Ears: How Do They Use Them, How Good Is Their Hearing And More! | Kidadl


Owl Ears: How Do They Use Them, How Good Is Their Hearing And More!

Arts & Crafts
Learn more
Reading & Writing
Learn more
Math & Logic
Learn more
Sports & Active
Learn more
Music & Dance
Learn more
Social & Community
Learn more
Mindful & Reflective
Learn more
Outdoor & Nature
Learn more
Read these Tokyo facts to learn all about the Japanese capital.

Owls are wise nocturnal birds that stay in their nests deep in the forests or in holes they make in tree trunks to sleep without being disturbed by the light of the rising sun.

These nocturnal birds are very sensitive to light and can see well only in the dark. These nocturnal species of birds fly at night because that is when things are visible to them and their sense of detection is heightened.

Nocturnal animals hunt their prey at night, and owls are no different. Owl species depend heavily on sounds made by other animals to detect and catch their prey.

After reading all about an owl's ear, also check out how do owls sleep, and how long do owls live here on Kidadl.

Do owls have ears?

Yes, owls have ears. They help them hear the sounds made at night and detect their direction to catch the prey. Owl ears are hidden towards the sides of their heads. Owl ears are sensitive to sound and can even hear the squeaking of a mouse.

The owl's ears are surrounded heavily by feathers, forming a ruff around its head. The owl's round disc-shaped face allows the owl to naturally detect sounds from far away. Their sensitivity to sound is multifold, ten times greater than that felt by humans. Owls can even change or make modifications to their disc-shaped faces to hear better.

The actual ears of an owl are carefully hidden behind the feathers of its facial disc. This keeps their ears protected and ensures the best sensitivity at all times. Some species of owls have symmetrical ruffs, while other species have asymmetrical ruffs. In asymmetrical ears, owl species have one ear opening higher or lower than the ear opening in the other ear. It sends signals to the owl’s brain, helping the owl decide the exact location of the sound. The left ear opening of a barn owl is usually seen to be higher than the right ear opening, which means that any sound coming from below the owl’s sight will be registered in the brain first from the right side.

How good is owl hearing?

Owls have great adaptations. These nocturnal species are able to detect the location of any animal at night with just a faint sound. An owl’s hearing is the best. It is better than all other birds and does not decrease with age. The hearing range of owls is 200–12,000 Hz.

This is exceptional as no other bird can hear such a range of sounds. The asymmetry allows for this increased hearing sensitivity. These species of birds have great hearing adaptations. Their ears are specially modified to hear even the tiniest sounds that are created around them.

Close up of an owl

How does an owl hear?

Northern Saw-whet owls are nocturnal birds with highly developed auditory processes. Their auditory systems enable them to hear well at night. Feathers of the facial disc make it easier to protect these valuable auditory systems. Their hearing is accurate as they have the ability to understand the difference between frequencies and assess the exact distance and location of their prey.

Most species of owl have an ear opening. The inner ear opening is protected by the outer ear, and the outer ear opening is protected by the feathers of the facial disc. The temporal parts of the skull of an owl are mainly responsible for its asymmetrical ears. Their skulls are structured in a unique way to assist hearing. Signals from the owl’s ears are translated into messages of whether to go right, left, up, or down in the brain, allowing the owl to effectively eat prey.

Are owl ears in different places?

Yes, the owl’s ears are in slightly different places. This is especially true for owl species with asymmetrical auditory systems. This allows the birds to detect more accurately the location and distance of prey.

Their skull structure and brain functions enable them to hear even the slightest sound effectively and accurately. Their flight assists in locating and catching prey and navigating at night. Their ears are not clearly visible as they are hidden behind their disk-shaped faces, covered with feathers.

When the owl is in flight, its left ear catches sound from below, while its right ear captures sound from above.

A Barn Owl's Amazing Powers Of Hearing

Owls specifically have two different ears, which enables their brains to clearly indicate the precise location of the prey. Generally, the birds’ feathers make sounds while flying, which hampers their ability to concentrate and fully hear the tiny sounds around them.

Owls, however, are no ordinary birds. These nocturnal birds have very light feathers, which help them soar high and land without making much noise. These further assist owls' incredible ability to hear even the tiniest sounds made by ground animals like mice, rats, and snakes.

Barn owls do not have a very long lifespan. Typically, they live up to four years. However, exceptional cases do exist. The oldest recorded barn owl was approximately 15.42 years old. However, its ability to hear was still intact. Even if, due to some injury, the owl's hearing does get impaired, it has the ability to regrow the damaged cells and regain its exceptional hearing ability!

Sound Localization In Owls

Barn owls are extremely capable of localizing sound sources. They use their auditory space map to detect and understand the exact location. Localization of sound is carried out by the auditory sector of the forebrain of owls.

Owls even use sound localization to communicate with each other. Due to a time-lapse of a few seconds, the ear that receives the sound signal first gets a stronger signal than the second ear. Observing and studying the barn owl in its natural settings is the best understudy. The entire mechanism of localization is fascinating and incredible. They use it to sense the prey and dangers. Sound localization is a great brain function that enables effective hunting. Hunting takes place only at night, as owls are nocturnal birds.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for owl ears then why not take a look at owl pellet or barn owl facts.

Written By
Supriya Jain

<p>As a skilled member of the Kidadl team, Shruti brings extensive experience and expertise in professional content writing. With a Bachelor's degree in Commerce from Punjab University and an MBA in Business Administration from IMT Nagpur, Shruti has worked in diverse roles such as sales intern, content writer, executive trainee, and business development consultant. Her exceptional writing skills cover a wide range of areas, including SOP, SEO, B2B/B2C, and academic content.</p>

Read The Disclaimer

Was this article helpful?