Find more of my photographs and information similar to that which I post in this blog in my book Naturally Curious, which is now available from www.trafalgarbooks.com or your local bookseller.
The ear openings of most birds are hidden under feathers, and are on the sides of the head. You can occasionally see them, if the bird’s head is turned just right. While birds lack the outer ear that many mammals have, owls do have a movable skin fold, most prominent along the front edge of their ears, that reflects sounds that come to the owl from behind. It is commonly known that owls have acute hearing, in part because of their ear structure. Their two ear openings are often differently shaped, and their placement is usually asymmetrical, with one ear located at a higher or lower level on the head than the other. If you look closely at this barred owl’s head, you can detect one such opening.