Sound is an essential sense in the life of the bird. They sing to woo mates, they call to warn off intruders and rivals and they use other sounds to keep tabs on each other.

That leads to questions about how birds hear. Do they hear better than humans? The short answer: In some ways, yes.  

Other animals, including humans, have external ears that direct and focus sounds. The ears of a bird are small openings located behind and below their eyes. These openings are covered by protective feathers.

On one hand, birds have a big advantage over humans in the auditory department. When birds have hearing loss after being exposed to loud noises, they can do something that humans can’t: Regenerate their hearing. Why can’t humans and other mammals do this? Scientists think there’s a trade-off — compared to most birds, human ears can pick up a greater range of frequencies.

Still, birds may process sounds differently from humans, scientists believe. One study found that Zebra Finches could be trained to respond to variations in song syllables. Humans, on the other hand, couldn’t detect the subtle differences in the bird’s song. “… These findings show there is an acoustic richness in bird vocalizations that is available to birds but likely out of reach for human listeners,” the study concludes.

There is much to learn about how birds experience the world of sound. Keep your ears open and keep them flocking to your yard with feeders full of good seed, especially Lyric Fine Tunes No Waste Mix. This no-waste blend has no shells or hulls, and includes finely-cut, high-energy nuggets such as almonds, pistachios and sunflower kernels to keep them singing.