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.

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