Egg Buying Guide: Carton Labels – What Do Terms Like ‘Organic’, ‘Cage Free’ and ‘Humane’ Really Mean?

Do you really understand what all the terms on the egg labels mean?There are so many confusing egg label terms out there such as ‘organic’ ‘free range’ ‘pasture raised’ ‘ cage free’ and ‘certified humane’ but what do they actually mean?

An egg can only be as healthy as the hen who laid it. Therefore, if the hen is not healthy, the egg will not be either, and as a result you will be eating an egg that has no benefit to your health, and is possibly even detrimental. So, what do chickens need?

  1. A clean, sheltered, warm and dry roost. There should be plenty of space, and lots of seperate nest boxes to avoid aggression due to overcrowding. There should also be properly sized perches, as chickens like to be elevated at night, and improperly sized perches can damage their feet.
  2. Fresh. clean water, and organic, nutritious and balanced feed. Artificial chemicals are detrimental to the bird, and thus the egg, which in turn means we ingest the chemicals when we eat the egg.
  3. A field or paddock to spend the day in. Chickens need to forage, preen and dust-bath themselves in a spacious environment. Chickens are not herbivores – they are omnivores, and like to hunt for beetles, grubs and worms.

Cheap Eggs

The egg label does not actually say ‘cheap eggs’. Cheap, supermarket eggs are sold under many different names, and may have a picture of a beautiful, healthy hen on the front, but the hens who laid these eggs where kept in terrible conditions. They are held in tiny wire cages smaller than an A4 sheet of paper – so small the hen cannot even stretch her wings. The hens are forced to remain in these tiny cages their whole life.

They are fed grain that is often genetically modified, and laced with artificial pesticides, herbicides, insecticides and fertilizers.

This is not a healthy living state, and thus the hens are not healthy. The method is quick and allows mass-production of eggs, but it is detrimental to the chicken’s health, and our own.

A hen may lay more than 250 eggs a year, and to produce this many eggs, she needs lots of calcium. In fact, she uses an astounding 30 times that found in her skeleton to produce the eggs. After a year of intensive production, she  is so calcium depleted that her bones may shatter when handled. She is labeled as ‘useless’ and sent off to slaughter.

Certified Organic

Hens are not kept in cages, and must be fed organic feed, thus eliminating pesticides and fertilizers. She will also not have been pumped with antibiotics, and thus her eggs will be healthier.The living conditions still are not optimum, as nowhere in the ‘certified organic’ label is there any mention of pasture. Under the label of ‘organic’ hens are intended to have outdoor access, but this may be simply a tiny patch of concrete.

Free Range

Free range chickens have access to outdoor for over 50% of their lives, but the type of access is still undefined. Indoor conditions are also not specified, so hens can be packed in a dark, overcrowded environment.

Cage Free/ Free Run

This does not necessarily mean the hen is happily pecking about in a pasture, it just denotes the absence of battery cages. Hens can still be crammed in dark and overcrowded environments with no outdoor access.

Animal Welfare Approved

Debeaking, forced moulting and other cruel practices are not permitted. Indoor areas have no cages, and perches with dust bathing and bedding provided. Flocks are limited to 500 birds, and fed feed that is antibiotic and hormone-free. Medication is only allowed in cases of illness. Hens have outdoor access, with a minimum of 4 square feet per hen, and continuous access to foraging from 4 weeks of age (weather permitting).

Certified Humane

Similar to animal welfare approved, debeaking and forced moulting are not permitted. Perches and bedding and dust bathing is available, with at least 1.5 feet space per hen. Outdoor access is not required, however.

100% Vegetarian Feed

The chickens were fed on feed that contained no animal by-products. outdoor access, indoor conditions and the use of debeaking and forced moulting are not specified, nor is the use of antibiotics.

Pasture-raised

Here hens can express natural freedom, and as thye do not resort to aggression, there is no need to slice of their beaks. The term ‘pasture raised’ is not legally defined, however, farmers keeping pasture raised hens often feed herbicide and fertilizer free food. There is no third party certification or legal definition, therefore there is no way to validate the label.

Avian Moulting: Autumnal Featherloss in Chickens – Why and When it Happens

Moulting: The purposeful loss (or shedding) of scales/hair/feathers.

In late summer or early autumn, chickens begin to lose their feathers. This is one of the most alarming things for a novice chicken keeper. This, however, is perfectly normal. It is called Moulting (USA spelling is Molting).

When chicks hatch, they are covered in soft puffy tufts of fluff, which is shed and replaced by small feathers in the first juvenile moult. After a few more juvenile moults, and a lot of growing, the chicks finally acquire their adult plumage. This is then moulted off again in autumn, and replaced.

Chickens moult to replace their old, worn, torn and no longer waterproof feathers with brand new, shiny, waterproof plumage to combat winter’s harsh weather. So, during September, October and sometimes even August, chickens all over the country will look ragged, and partially hair-less. As said before, this can be quite scary for a novice chicken keeper, however is 100% normal!!!

It takes a lot of energy to grow new feathers, and lots and lots of protein! During the autumn, chicken will stop laying to concentrate on moulting. At this time, changing feed from layers pellets to breeders pellets may be advisable, as rather than egg laying, breeders pellets target fertility and beauty, and contain lots of protein which helps hens grow new feathers.

Feather eating during this period may occur, this is also not a problem as the hen is only recycling protein! If you are worried they will choke, rake loose feathers away, but ensure you feed foodstuffs that contain plenty of protein.

  • Moulting is a natural process, not a disease. It occurs over a 6-8 week period, and gradual feather-loss is okay, whereas baldness is NOT ok. If a hen is completely bald, it may be a different problem besides moulting that requires investigation.
  •  More protein, less stress and good hygiene = good moult, and good return to lay.
  • Chickens should act normally while moulting, if they stop eating or drinking, something is amiss!
  • When returning to lay, eggs may be smaller than normal, however, they should quickly return to normal!

		

Avian Immune System – The Police of The Chicken Body

Like all animals, chickens, as well as other poultry, have immune systems like mammals do. Below is an insight to the defence of the avian body!

Primary Defences

Innate Immunity

Acquired Immunity

  • Passive Immunity
  • Active Immunity
    1. Cellular Immunity
    2. Non Cellular (Humoral) Immunity

    Skin: The skin is the first, and primary defence. It forms a physical barrier which blocks harmful micro-organisms from entering. Therefore, invasion can only occur if the skin is broken.

    Mucous Membranes: As the name suggests, these are membranes, covered in mucous! They are found lining the digestive tract, respiratory tract and several other body systems. The mucous carries the micro-organisms away, and expels them, via nasal discharge, or out the other side in the faeces.

    Immune System: Finally, if the invaders have bypassed all the other defences, the immune system comes in. It consists of various organelles and cells which are primed to target anything alien. Many of these are harmless, but the ones that cause disease must be eradicated!

    The immune systems primary role is to recognise foreign bodies and neutralize or eliminate them. This is done by lysis (rupture) and agglugation (clumping together) of foreign bodies, or phagocytosis (engulfing and de-activating).

    Innate Immunity is one of natures tools. It is the natural, or inherited ability to resist infection or disease.

    • Some birds are naturally resistant to diseases like lymphoid leukosis because they lack the receptors that the lymphoid leukosis virus infects.
    • Chickens have a high body temperature, so diseases from other animals are usually not a problem, because the pathogen is killed at high temperatures.
    • Normally, the skin and digestive tract are riddled with naturally beneficial bacteria. These stop invaders from gaining a foothold
    • The respiratory tract has fine hairs, called cilia. These are washed over with mucous and any bacteria foolish enough to dare penetrate the tract will be washed away and expelled out of the nose.

    Acquired Immunity is a very effective type of immunity that the bird gains over its lifetime. White blood cells or leucocytes are found in the blood. These are the ”police” of the body, and they hunt the criminals! There are phagocytes, which phagocytose (engulf and deactivate) intruders, and lymphocytes which release antibodies (special globulin proteins) to bind to and inactivate the antigens.

    There are two main ways in which acquired immunity works…

       

    1. Passive Immunity – This involves immunity transferred from individual to individual, for example, from hen to chick through the egg. In mammals, a similar process takes place through colostrum (antibody rich ”first milk”).
    2.  

    3. Active Immunity refers to the immunity gained from acquiring a disease then defeating it. The  chicken keeps memory cells in the blood, so if the chicken is re-infected, antibody producion will occur so fast that the disease will not have time to cause symptoms.

    Passive immunity

    The first few days after hatching, a chick’s immune sytem is not functional, so it cannot fight invasion for itself. The solution to the problem comes through the egg. The mother passes on some antibodies which, although short lived, will guidde the chick through the first few days of life. These antibodies are from the mother’s acquired immunity, either from  vaccines or infection, then defeat of a disease.

    The level of immunity that is passed into the egg is similar to her own level, but after the 3 weeks of incubation, this drops to half. Therefore , it is valuable for the flock manager to keep the mother’s immunity levels high, to promote the health of her chicks. If vaccination of the chick is to be considered, remember that doing so too early could cause a subdued immune response, due to maternal antibodies attacking the vaccine, but if left too late, the chick will be open to disease, and may have an excessively high immune response.

    Active Immunity

    As I said above, active immunity is where the body fights off a disease, and keeps memory cells in the blood, so at the firt sign of re-infection,  antibodies are produced, and the disease cannot take a hold. This defence is effective, but only for specific antigens.

    Active immunity is divded into two parts, namely non-cellular (humoral) and cellular…

     

    Non-Cellular (Humoral) Immunity

    Non cellular (humoral) immunity involves antibodies, and the cells that produce them. Antibodies only exist for a short time, and are specific to their antigen. For example, the antibody for Infectious coryza, affects only the pathogen for Infectious coryza, and not the Infectious Bronchitis virus.

    When a pathogen enters the body, it is engulfed by a phagocytic WBC, known as a macrophage. It is then transported to and exposed to the B-lymphocytes (also known as B-cells).

    B-cells are produced (in the chick) by yolk sacs, the liver and the bone marrow. After 15 days of incubation, through to ten weeks of age, these cellsare moved to an organ known as the Bursa of Fabricius (BF). When required, the BF ”programs” the B-cells to attack the antigen with antibodies. The programmed B-cells then progress onto the spleen, the blood, the cecal tonsils, the bone marrow, the Harderian gland (in the eye) and thymus (an organ which ”educates” T-lymphocytes (T cells)).

    Destruction of the BF in chicks of a young age, due to Marek’s disease or Gumboro disease, means that the chick can never program B-cells, so cannot respond to most invasions, or vaccinations.

    When invasion occurs, the B-Cells release antibodies to fight the intruders. Macrophages also join the fight, coming to gobble-up the antigens which the antibodies have inhibited. After a war is over, the B-cells produce ”memory cells” which ”remember” the intruder, so should the intruder attack again, they can produce large amounts of antibodies, to generate a quicker and more effective response than the initial attack.

    Antibodies do not have the capability to kill disease directly, rather, they bind to the pathogens and inhibit their receptors. This means that they cannot locate, and bind to the target receptor.They also acts as a ”flag” for the phagocytes (macrophages) to detect invaders! Finally, though, it is up to the macrophages to engulf, and destroy pathogens.

    Cellular Immunity

    The cellular component of the immune response involves all cells that react to a specific antigen, except for those involved in antibody production (B-cells etc). The main players here are the T-lymphocytes (T-cells). These begin as the same stem cells as B-cells, but are programmed in the thymus rather than the BF.

    T-cells are produced and programmed to perform various functions, some T-cells assist B-cells and macrophages, these are known as helper T-cells, some produce lymphokines, others (directly) destroy invading organisms. Others still are known as suppressors, and inhibit the effects of macrophages and B-cells.

    This response was first discovered when it was found that birds with a damaged BF can still fight many infections and diseases!

    Lymphokines

    These are chemicals in the form of soluble proteins, that assist in activating other components of the immune response. Almost 100 different types have been identified!

    They work by:

    • Binding to WBC and increasing their ability to fight off invasion
    • Breaking down damaged, and invading cells
    • Increasing lymphocyte production
    • Performing many other related functions.

     

     

    Learn the Lingo – Lets Speak Chicken!

    Like all animals, chickens have their own way of communicating. They are more capable and cunning than we have ever realized – they have their own language! They are capable of communicating danger, announcing a new egg, chatting to their friends and much more!

    They use vocal communication, and gestures to convey meaning, and scientist have recentlly discovered that clever chickens may be as crafty as humans…

    In fact, a study carried out by Dr K-lynn Smith and Professor Chris Evans from the Centre for the Integrative Study of Animal Behaviour at Macquarie University found that chickens are social animals, who use complex communication skills, and adjust what they say depending on who’s listening!!

    Some Chook calls…

    The titbit call: A distinct “tuc-tuc-tuc-tuc-tuc-tuc-tuc-tuc” sound

    The warning call: This is a common one when a predatory bird is spotted in the sky. It is a short but accentuated “tuck!” It is usually followed by complete silence, which is only broken once the spotted creature is deemed as non-threatening.

    The egg call: This one surfaces when an egg has been laid. It is usually started by the hen who laid, and conveyed by other hens or the cockerel. It is generally a “kaaaeeee-ka-ka-ka-ka-kaaaeee!” 

    The alarm call: This one is similar to the egg call, only it is a more desperate, drawn-out sound.

    Wild Panic: This is not really an ordered sound, consisting of loud, desperate screeching. It is rarely found, and even then usually marks a serious situation, such as a fox attack.

    The Cluck: This is the common chicken sound, a soft cluck exhibited almost constantly! It is simply the chickens chatting, bonding and interacting! It is a soft, gently “cluck-cluck-cluck-cluck-cluck-cluck

    Mother Call: This is a sound the mother makes to her chicks. She is teaching them, and bonding with them.

    The ”Go away, Im broody” cluck: An irritated cuc-tuc-cuc-tuc-cuc-tuc-cuc-tuc-cuc-tuc-cuc-tuc

    Thee are some of the most common calls and sounds, there are many more, in fact, at least 30 have been identified!

     

    Avian Endocrine Systems – Hormones in Poultry

    The Endocrine system consists of various glands and nodes which secrete hormones. Hormones are chemical messengers which travel in the blood to activate target cells. These target cells have special receptors, into which only certain hormones can fit. For example, testosterone act on the male gonads, but not the adrenal glands.

    Hormones tell the body what to do. The endocrine system is closely linked to the nervous system, because both deal with communications and co-ordination, but there are a few distinct differences.

    Hormones Act slowly, and for a long period of time. They cause gradual changes.

    Nerve Impulses Act very quickly, and only last for an extremely short period of time. The changes they cause are instant.

    Below are some of the main avian endocrine glands:

    Pituitary: The pituitary Gland is sometimes called the master gland. It sits in the brain base, and releases various hormones which trigger other endocrine glands to release hormones. It has two parts, the anterior and posterior lobe. It releases:

    • Natural Growth Hormone
    • Thyroid Stimulating Hormone
    • Adrenocorticotrophic Hormone (ACTH) – Stimulates the adrenal cortex
    • Sex hormones (LuteinisingHormone (LH) and Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH)) – To stimulate the sex glands
    • Melanin Stimulating Hormone – Unknown function (in birds)

    The posterior pituitary also produces arginine vasotocin and stores oxytocin both of which play a role in egg yolk release.

    Hypothalamus

    The hypothalamus is located centrally in the brain, at the base. It produces oxytocin as mentioned above, and plays a role in controlling the anterior pituitary gland.

    Pineal Body: This is a small gland in the centre of the brain. It produces melatnin through the ue of tryptophan (a type of amino acid). Melatonin affects electrical goings-on in the brain, and behaviour, as well as sleep.The Pineal body has been described as a ‘biological clock’ and part of it function is to alert the hypothalamus as to when  to release certain hormones. An example of this is laying. In the wild, birds only lay in spring, because the pineal body ‘tells’ the hypothalamus that spring has come, and the hypothalamus begins producing LH and FSH.

    Adrenal Glands: These are a pair of small glands, some 9mm long, located in front of the kidneys. They have two regions, the adrenal cortex and the adrenal medulla. The cortex produces 3 hormones…

    • 8-hydroxycorticosterone – A hormone with an unknown function
    • Corticosterone – Stress reaction, protein breakdown, fat and carbohydrate metabolism
    • Aldosterone – Regulates sodium retention

    The medulla produces two compounds:

    Epinephrine – This plays a role in controlling blood pressure

    Norepinephrine – Fat metabolism

    Thyroid Glands

    These two glands are found at the base of the neck, each one lying at a different side.  They produce:

    • Triiodothyronine – Involved in feather (and beak and skin) development. Scientists think it may be involved in the moulting process
    • Thyroxine Regulates carbohydrate metabolism, heat production and promotes high blood sugar and growth

    Parathyroid Glands: are two assisting bodies located behind the thyroid glands. They produce Parathormone which regulates and controls the calcium level in the blood.

    Ultimobranchial bodies: These are located behind the parathyroid glands. They produce calcitonin and lower the blood calcium, thus calcitonin and Parathormone must be in balance.

    Islets of Langerhans: This group of specialized cells is located in the  pancreas. It produces two hormones:

    • Glucagon – Raises blood sugar, and affects fatty acids
    • Insuli – Lowers blood sugar

    Gonads:

    Gonads or reproductive organs produces these hormones:

    • Testosterone
    • Progesterone
    • Oestrogen

    All of the hormones are needed in both genders, but the amounts vary. Hens need a lot more of the latter two, while cockerels produce much more of the former. When a cockerel is casrated, he becomes a capon and stops producing testosterone. Overtime, he takes on the behaviour, and to some degree, the appearance of a hen!

     

     

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    Mycoplasma – The Chronic Recurring Disease – Chronic Respiratory Disease (CRD)

    Mycoplasma

    Mycoplasma refers to a family (also known as a genus) of bacteria that lack a cell wall. This means that common antibiotics such as penicillin, or other cell wall synthesis (the combination of several entities to form something different (such as the process by which amino acids form proteins, or proteins form an organelle)) targeting antibiotics (also known as beta-lactam antibiotics). They can be parasitic (living off other organisms) or saprotrophic (living off dead or decomposing matter).

    Mycoplasma in Chickens

    The most common type of mycoplasma affecting chickens is mycoplasma gallisepticum. This type of mycoplasma is parasitic, and affects chickens, wild birds, turkeys, pigeons and other fowl. It is the causative agent of chronic respiratory disease (CRD) in chickens and infectious sinusitis in game birds, turkeys, pigeons etcetera. It is transmitted either through the eggs of carrier hens, or by chicken to chicken (airborne) transmission. It is highly contagious and is spread rapidly when the birds sneeze.

    Some breeders breed without the knowledge that their flock is infected, therefore passing the disease on. Stress is thought to lower the resistance to the mycoplasma bacteria, and the disease sets in and the birds begin to exhibit symptoms. Some people dismiss this as the ‘common cold’, or think its ‘nothing’ and the disease is allowed to run riot throughout the stock.

    Symptoms

    • Sniffling
    • Sneezing
    • Rasping or rattling in the throat
    • Foamy eyes and nose
    • Yawning

    More advanced symptoms include:

    • Loud, sharp ”Coughing” noise
    • Stiffness
    • Stretching legs and wings, sometimes trailing them
    • Difficulty balancing, sometimes even falling over

    Diagnosis

    Diagnosis is generally based on symptoms, and a blood test at the vets will give definite results. A course of medication will follow. Tylan is recommended for this purpose, but it is only available on prescription.

    Some people recommend Tylan injections rather than tylan oral, as this is faster and usually more efficient.

    Prevention

    A  vaccination is now available. The F-Strain is a low pathogenicity strain which gives immunity to the  birds for the laying season, but leaves them as carriers. It is, however, fully virulent for turkeys. Recently, 6/85 and ts-11 were introduced. These two live nonpathogenic strains give immunity, without making the inoculated bird a carrier.

    National Poultry Show Great Britain Will Be Held November 2012

    After a very successful 2011 Show, the 2012 Show will be held on Saturday and Sunday 18th and 19th November 2012. As usual, the Show will feature around 6,000 representatives of about 135 different Large Fowl, Bantams, Turkeys, Geese and Ducks. There will also be competition classes and sale pens, as well as a Restaurant. Music and a Bar will also be available (Saturday Night Only).

    On Saturday, the show is open to the public 10.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m, while on Sunday it is open 9.00 a.m. to 2.00 p.m. The venue will be Stoneleigh Park, Stoneleigh, nr Coventry, Warwickshire, CV8 2LZ.

    More details can be found here, and the schedule can be there soon.

    Can You Breed From Birds With Mycoplasma?

    Can You breed from chickens with Mycoplasma? Please comment below on how you feel about breeding from chickens with this chronic illness.

    Well, the long and short of it is that there is no easy answer. If you have birds with mycoplasma, and you want to breed from them, every situation must be treated as a different case!

    It all depends on how, where, when and why the birds have been infected, as well as the intensity of the infection.

    Also, some strains are more virulent than others, so this will also have some effect on the decision to breed or not to do so. It should also be taken into account, that once the birds are heavily infected, there are two ways of transmission. One of these occurs when the birds are stressed, and actively ”shedding” pathogens. This is when the disease is carried from bird to bird through the air. The other is when the bird is not exhibiting symptoms, but still carrying the disease. This is when the bird transits the disease through the egg!

    Birds which have been exposed to the disease, but have not contracted any signs are the obvious ones to breed from, if any. That said, they may still be carriers, but that could (theoretically at least) actually make the chicks immune to the disease! Because, as I discussed in my article on the chicken’s immune system (not yet published at the time of going to press), if an adult bird has immunity to a disease, some antibodies are actually passed on to the chick! But, it is a double edged sword, because, at the same time, disease pathogens could have been passed on, and this leaves the chick open to disease.

    Birds that have been treated for mycoplasma have obviously had the disease more severely, so chances are, the oviducts would have been infected, guaranteeing the chicks to come down with the disease, UNLESS you medicate the birds with tylan, or similar, and collect the eggs that you will use for hatching  during this period of medication. IF you are lucky, the tylan may have intercepted pathogen transmission to the egg, or in some mysterious way, avoided infection!

    Obviously, placing eggs under an infected hen is NOT advised, because she will only infect them, even if the eggs were uninfected! Therefore, an incubator is a better answer. An uninfected hen is not advisable either, unless she is vaccinated with a non-pathogenic strain, because if the eggs were NOT pathogen free, they will infect the previously uninfected hen!

    So, can you breed from chickens with Mycoplasma? Yes. Yes you can, BUT you need to look at EVERY SINGLE CASE seperately, and evaluate  the risks and benefits, because, at the end of the day, it’s not really worth taking the risks of breeding from infected birds, unless you are trying to rescue a breed on the edge of extinction!!!

     

    Avian Skeletal System – The Bones of The Bird

    All animals have skeletons of some type, be it an endoskeleton, exoskeleton or a completely unique one!!!! While chickens skeletons may look akin to all the rest, their are subtle differences. Their skeletons are built like birds skeletons, modified for flying (even though modern chickens dont fly!). So how is the avian skeleton different?

    The tail consists mostly of feathers. In fact, its only bone is a few very small bones, fused together to form the pygostyle. The head has also been made smaller than in other animals, to allow for good balance while flying. Chickens sternums are also flat, yet light to provide anchorage for the main flight muscles. The ribcage has a structure called the uncinate process. This is seen as flaps which overlay the ribs and attach one rib to its neighbour. This provides support and extra strength to the ribcage and ensures that it does not collapse during flight.

    The entire body is very rigid. The spinal processes are fused to help with flight, the ribs are fused etcetera, so acces to food is hard. For this reason, the neck is long! It also help to protect the bird from jarring the brain as it lands.

    The skull, sternum and some of the vertebrae are pneumatic bones. This means that they are part of the respiratory system, in fact, they are hollow and contain air sacs. Another type of modified avian bone is medullary bones. These are those such as the tibia, ulna, toes, pubic bone and others, and provide an important source of calcium which is used when the hen is laying. In fact, a hen uses 47% of her calcium store to create an eggshell. Commercial laying hens cannot get enough calcium from diet alone, and rely on this vital store to avoid thin, or non existent egg shells.

    SUMMARY

    Chicken bones are similar, yet different. The tail is fused, yet articulating, the neck is also movable, but the remaining vertebrae are fused. Some bones, especially the sternum, are large and flat to provide a hold for flight muscles.

    There are two main types of bone. The pneumatic bones have air sacs in them to help flight, and act as a part of the respiratory system. Medullary bones provide an extra, and essential calcium store.

    The function and science of the avian ear



    Do Chickens have ears? Yes! And in this article I will explain how they work.

    Even though chickens ears are seen only as small,  fleshy red or white earlobes, or auriculars (also known as ear coverts), the inner ear channels and amplifies sound, and plays a significant role a one of the senses.

    Near the auriculars and below and behind the eye, the ear is located. The auriculars channel sound waves into the ear opening,  and towards the eardrum, a thin membrane that vibrates in accordance with the sound waves. The waves are passed down the columella, one of the smallest bones in the avian body, and transmitted to another membrane called the oval window via the cochlea in the middle ear. The cochlea is filled with fluid, and tiny hairs called cilia are attached to its walls. They move with the sound vibrations, as blades of grass do in the wind. Vibrations are translated into electrical impules, and sent to the brain via the auditory nerve.

    When human cilia are damaged, they never re-grow, and so throughout life, hearing slowly decreases. The same happens in birds, right? WRONG!!! Birds can regenerate their cilia!!!

    Avians also have semicircular canals, the saccule and utricle, which regulate balance, just as they do in humans.

    I hope this was interesting, feel free to browse my website!