Owl Feathers: Hearing

Owl Feathers – Hearing

Music; Ambience: Barn Owl , Barred Owl

JM: To survive in their nocturnal world, owls not only have very good night vision, but they also have excellent hearing. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Kim Middleton is a raptor biologist at the Peregrine Fund in Boise, Idaho.

KM: The feathers on an owl’s face are specially designed, and it makes the facial disc have kind of a parabolic shape. And that is like a satellite dish, and that is what helps the sound to collect and then be directed to the ear openings.

JM: But that’s just the start. An owl’s ears are like their own personal global positioning satellite system designed to help them locate their prey with deadly precision.

KM: Their ear openings are very large in relationship to their skull, but they are asymmetrically placed on their head. In mammals our ear openings are symmetric. They’re at the same height on each side of the head. They’re at the same distance forward and backwards, and they’re the same shape. But with an owl, it’s different. One ear is higher than the other and more forward then the other, and they are both shaped differently. So what is happening is that as sound comes to the ear, it comes to each ear every so slightly different, and that ear can or that owl can then triangulate where that sound is coming from. Dogs will will do the same thing. Sometimes you’ll see your dog concentrating and they cock their head to one side, maybe cock it to the other side. They’re trying to triangulate where a sound is coming from. But we as mammals have a harder time because we have symmetrical ears.

JM: If you’d like to hear about our new Pulse of the Planet CD, please visit our website at pulseplanet.com. Pulse of the Planet is presented with support provided by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.

Owl Feathers: Hearing

Its asymmetric ears and surrounding facial feathers enable and owl to receive sound much like a satellite dish.
Air Date:10/18/2002
Scientist:
Transcript:

Owl Feathers - Hearing

Music; Ambience: Barn Owl , Barred Owl

JM: To survive in their nocturnal world, owls not only have very good night vision, but they also have excellent hearing. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Kim Middleton is a raptor biologist at the Peregrine Fund in Boise, Idaho.

KM: The feathers on an owl's face are specially designed, and it makes the facial disc have kind of a parabolic shape. And that is like a satellite dish, and that is what helps the sound to collect and then be directed to the ear openings.

JM: But that's just the start. An owl's ears are like their own personal global positioning satellite system designed to help them locate their prey with deadly precision.

KM: Their ear openings are very large in relationship to their skull, but they are asymmetrically placed on their head. In mammals our ear openings are symmetric. They're at the same height on each side of the head. They're at the same distance forward and backwards, and they're the same shape. But with an owl, it's different. One ear is higher than the other and more forward then the other, and they are both shaped differently. So what is happening is that as sound comes to the ear, it comes to each ear every so slightly different, and that ear can or that owl can then triangulate where that sound is coming from. Dogs will will do the same thing. Sometimes you'll see your dog concentrating and they cock their head to one side, maybe cock it to the other side. They're trying to triangulate where a sound is coming from. But we as mammals have a harder time because we have symmetrical ears.

JM: If you'd like to hear about our new Pulse of the Planet CD, please visit our website at pulseplanet.com. Pulse of the Planet is presented with support provided by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.