Do Chickens Have Ears? [Hearing, Infections] and More

Chicken keepers love their chickens. Most of us even name each one of them. Like most animals, you may notice that your chickens will learn their names and even come when called. Chickens also make noises to communicate with their other flock members, other animals, and even you. But, do they even have any ears? On most animals we can tell that they have ears because they’re plainly visible. So, if chickens do have ears, where are they located?

Do Chickens Have Ears

Yes, chickens have ears; they are little holes located on each side of their head. They aren’t visible because there is no distinguishable outer ear, and the holes are covered by a special tuft of feathers designed to protect their ears. The small openings in the ear canal allow chickens to hear exceptionally well. 

We’ll take a closer look at a chicken’s ears, the earlobe, and how well chickens hear, and other vital information you need to understand everything you need to know about your the ears. 

Where Are A Chicken’s Ears Located

A chicken’s ears are little holes located on both sides of its head. Looking at your chicken, you might notice small lobes on the side of their head just before their feathers. 

These are their earlobes, and their ears are little holes hidden just to the right. Their ears are covered by a special tuft of feathers that protect their ears without impairing their hearing.

Just like us, chickens have an outer ear, middle ear, and inner ear, although their outer just consists of their earlobe and ear hole. 

How A Chicken Uses Its Ears to Hear

The sounds they hear travel through the outer ear and into the middle ear where they reach the columella, a single bone that then transfers the sound vibrations into the inner ear. In the inner ear, the cochlea transfers the sound to the auditory nerve. 

The auditory nerve is responsible for sending the vibrations directly to the brain to be processed.

Are Chickens Prone to Ear Infections

Chickens are prone to getting infections in their inner, middle, and outer ear. Inner ear infections are usually viral and complicated to treat. Chronic bacterial infections or even tumors mostly cause middle ear infections, and outer ears infections are generally associated with bacteria or fungus. 

Whatever the infection might be, it’s essential to look for the signs.

Signs of ear infections might include loss of balance, head tilting, inflammation, itching, or feathers around the ear matted with discharge. If you notice any of these signs, it’s essential to take your chicken to the vet as soon as possible in order to find the right treatment plan for your chicken.

The inner ear of a chicken is responsible for its balance. For most birds, the inner ear is critical because it helps them remain balanced and steady while in flight. Since chickens don’t fly very high, their inner ear helps them to remain stable on the ground. 

Chicken Ear Lobes Determine Color of Eggs

chicken ear lobes
The color of the earlobes will determine the color of eggs of laying hens.

As stated above, if you look closely, you will notice your chicken’s earlobes. According to McGill’s Office for Science and Society, the color of a chicken’s earlobe will determine the color of the eggs that they lay.

The lobes’ color will vary depending on the breed, but they range from white to almost black, but can even be blueish or green. White lobes will make white eggs, black lobes will be a darker brown, and blue lobes will mean blueish eggs!

Different breeds of chickens such as the Araucana, can have pale green or blue colored ear lobes.

This is because the same gene responsible for the color of a chicken’s ear lobes is the same one that determines the egg color. McGill’s claims that the color itself is determined by porphyrins, which appear after hemoglobin is broken down and is dependent entirely on the chicken’s genetics.

Do Chickens Have Good Hearing?

Chickens develop their hearing around 12 days into their incubation. As they grow, they acquire very acute hearing and can even hear sounds a lot faster than humans can.

A chicken’s ears make it possible for them to determine where a sound is coming from and pinpoint the place it’s coming from down to within a few feet.

According to Poultry Extension, this is because they can access the lag time between the sound’s arrival at each side of their head. Because they listen for lag time, chickens are much better at hearing short brief sounds rather than long ones.

The most common reason for hearing loss in humans is because of damage to sensory hair cells. In chickens, however, these hairs can regrow themselves whenever damaged. 

Because of this, chickens have almost 100% hearing for their entire lives. This trait is being studied in chickens in order to provide some better solutions for hearing loss.

There is also extensive research that shows that chickens can listen and respond to music. Chickens prefer to listen to music rather than random outside noises. Research even shows that most chickens prefer classical music over any other genre. This is possibly due to chickens’ sensitivity to noise, and classical music is generally very calm and soothing. So next time you’re doing some yard work, turn up your tunes so your chickens can listen in too.

Final Word

Chickens do indeed have ears; they are tiny holes located on each side of their head. They aren’t visible because there is no distinguishable outer ear and a special tuft of feathers designed to protect the ear without impairing their hearing. 

If you look carefully, you’ll be able to see that they also have earlobes on the side of their heads just before their feathers start.

Many sources state that a chicken’s earlobe color will determine the color of their eggs. Brown earlobes will mean brown eggs; white earlobes will mean white eggs, blue earlobes will mean blue eggs, and so on. This is entirely up to each individual’s genetics, although there are some standard colors among different chicken breeds.

Chickens have very acute hearing and can almost pinpoint the exact place a sound is coming from. This is because chickens access the lag time between each sound’s arrival. Chickens are much better at hearing short sounds than long ones.

There is also research that chickens can enjoy listening to music! Next time they lay their eggs, try turning on some classical music for their enjoyment.

If you want to see how well your chickens hear, call out their name the next time you’re in the yard. You’ll see them come running towards you!