Ducks are visibly different than other animals when it comes to their ears. So, unlike dogs or cats with external appendages called pinnae, you may wonder, do ducks have ears because you can’t see them? Fortunately, ducks do have ears, even though they are not visible.
Without ears, ducks could not hear approaching danger, find their flock, or communicate with their young. A duck’s sense of hearing is critical for thriving, along with its vision.
Where Are Duck’s Ears?
So, if you can’t see a duck’s ears, where are they? These vital organs sit on a duck’s head, like other animals, slightly behind and lower than the eyes, although you would never know they are there.
These tiny ears are open funnel-shaped holes that sit under soft feathers known as auriculars. These feathers protect a duck’s ears from environmental elements and muffle loud sounds, especially when flying.
How Do Ducks Hear if Their Ears Are Covered?
You may wonder how ducks can hear so well when their ears have feathers covering them. Of course, it makes sense that external pinnae will help direct sounds into an ear canal, but how does their hearing work without that?
The answer to this is the shape of their head. Unlike humans or other various animals, a duck’s oval-shaped head can reflect, absorb, and diffract sound waves. Where we need external appendages to complete these actions, a duck’s entire head is capable of these attributes.
Ducks can effectively track where a sound comes from by:
- Measuring the height of the sound
- Recognizing the volume and frequency
- Tracking sound by how frequencies absorb through each ear
In addition, a duck’s hearing capabilities differ from other feathered friends, like chickens and pigeons. For example, the Mallard Duck has a frequency threshold between 16 Hz to 9 kHz. Therefore, they cannot detect and process infrasound as various other bird species can.
How Accurate Is a Duck’s Hearing?
With tiny ear canals hidden below soft feathers, you may think that a duck’s hearing is not that great. However, it may surprise you how well they can hear.
A duck’s hearing begins before it hatches from the egg. Ducklings will make sounds to their mother and hear her sounds while still in the shell. This way, the babies are familiar with their mother and ready to follow her after hatching.
A duck can hear sounds up to 400 yards away, giving them time to react if a predator is close. In addition, their hearing capabilities can change depending on their location. For example, their perception will differ when on water or if they hear a sound coming from an area between the -30 and +30 degree range.
Although you cannot see any external indication of a duck’s ears, they are right there behind the eyes under some feathers, doing a perfect job of gathering sounds. Without these tiny ear holes, a duck would not know impending danger, find their mates, or communicate with their young.