Jul 30 2010

Anatomy: Auriculars

Published by at 7:27 am under Bird Anatomy

Now that we know where the birds’ ears are positioned, today’s lesson is easy to understand.

Auriculars is another name for cheek feathers (indicated by the red arrow), so-called because they cover the bird’s ears.

According to the Sibley Guide to Birds, auriculars are a “complex set of feathers that channel sound into the ear.  Feathers at the rear border are short, sturdy, and densely colored.  Feathers over the ear opening are lacy and unpatterned.”

On owls, these feathers create a pronounced facial disk that funnels the faint sounds of their prey into their ears.

Click here to see the facial disk — including the auriculars — on a great-horned owl.

(photos by Chuck Tague)

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