As a species, human beings take their high-performing senses for granted.
We do, don’t we?
Truthfully, there is no other animal or mammal that is capable of being so acutely aware of its surroundings at any one given time.
The five senses that humans have generally rank quite high when compared to other species and forms of animals.
However, today, we are going to be discussing the least developed if the five senses compared to other animals, and what is that sense?
While human hearing is still capable of interpreting an impressive range of sounds, the truth is, that it only doesn’t rank as highly as other animals capabilities, including that of our feathery little friend.
Hearing is a sense that we use every day, and it’s something that would be rather difficult to live without.
We use it to evade sources of danger, speak to loved ones, and communicate with those who are around us.
For humans, the average range of hearing is between 20 Hz to 20 kHz, as well as three main muscles that help humans hear the sounds from their environment.
There are, however, animals that have much more impressive hearing capabilities than humans, but the question which I’m sure you have been wondering, is a parrot one of them?
Well, all you parrot owners can now know, is that in the grand scheme of things, the hearing ability of a parrot is OK. Mainly, however, due to the simple fact that a parrot is a form of a bird, and birds don’t have a significant hearing when drawn in comparison to other species.
Here is precisely what we are going to be discussing in today’s article:
How does the hearing of a parrot compare to humans?
The anatomy of parrots hearing
How does it compare to other birds?
How can they mimic what humans say?
So let’s not waste any more time and get right into it
How does the hearing of a parrot compare to humans
The exact question you have probably been wondering is how does the hearing of a parrot compare to that of a human?
Well, the answer to that question is, not quite as good.
The reason for this is because it appears that parrots seem to lack this mysterious and hidden, highly-functional organ which means their hearing isn’t quite as good as that of humans, what could it be?
Ears, of course!
Unlike us, humans, birds, and parrots do not have any external round flops coming out of their heads.
The reason this is likely to be that it would allow them to streamline their flying process, meaning they can fly faster with ease.
Secondly, not only do birds not have any external ears, but their feathers cover entirely the internal ones that they do have.
Now you would generally be forgiven for believing that birds didn’t have any ears at all, but as we now know, they do, but they are just covered in feathers.
When the feathers are parted, the existence of a parrot’s ears is proven.
The feathers that cover the inner ear are effective in keeping the wind out, which is particularly useful when the bird is in the air.
However, as we know, this reduces the sound that can reach the bird’s ear.
Like I said before, the average human has an audible range of approximately between 20 Hz and 20 kHz whereas our feather friends would only have a span of almost half of that, ranging from about 7 kHz to 10 kHz, with the most common being approximately 8.5 kHz.
If you’re interested in knowing exactly how this would sound, you could check out 8.5 kHz sound waves.
But to put it into a concrete example, the hearing abilities of a parrot is probably about similar to that of a 60+-year-old human.
Further Anatomy of a Parrot’s hearing
When we dive deeper into the structure of a parrot’s hearing process we can find a much more primitive hearing and ear structure.
In the same way as their reptilian ancestors, parrots have only one bone in their inner ear, which is called the columella.
One of the mammals distinguishing features is that it has a three-bone ear structure, in contrast to its reptilian ancestor.
This structure features the malleus, stapes ear bone, and incus.
These three bone structure does aid parrots, in allowing them to have a more sensitive hearing compared to their ancestors.
This means that a parrot could not hear a watch ticking, a pin drop or even the rustling of leaves, for the sole reason that they just aren’t loud enough to be heard.
Since their hearing drops of prematurely In the high pitch range, it means that high pitched sounds do have to be of increased volume to allow them to hear.
Don’t worry, however, if you own a parrot, you won’t have to begin to speak to them as if they are your great grandparents, as they can comfortable hear sounds within the human vocal range, whispering quietly would just about meet their hearing threshold.
There is no doubt about it, that noise can be frustrating sometimes.
Think about a baby squealing, worse yet, a baseball bat hitting a metal trash can, or worst of all, scraping fingernails along the blackboard, (still gives me shudders).
The good news for our feathery little friends is that the noise won’t bother them as much as it bothers us.
Not just thanks to their less sensitive hearing mechanisms, but birds are better equipped to handle sound.
Any parrot owner who is reading this may recall a time when their parrot has screamed.
A parrot scream is so powerful that it can make you temporarily deaf in one ear.
At the same time, however, a parrot could cry all day long without having to worry about doing any damage to the hearing of self or other parrots.
The reason for this is because of the arrows inner hair cells.
Hair cells are responsible for detecting the transmission of sound vibration and then transferring them into an electrical signal which is then processed by the brain.
Extreme noise or prolonged response exposure can damage these hairs, which may result in rather severe hearing loss.
For parrots, however, it’s a little bit different, as their inner hairs are capable of re-growing and returning to their full level of natural hearing ability.
All of this makes sense, too, when considered in the context of human ancestors.
The ancestors of us humans relied on hearing for avoiding predators as well as other navigation purposes.
This is an adequate explanation of why birds would have a better sense of vision, but not the same hearing abilities as humans.
How does parrots hearing compare to their birds?
When compared to other breeds of birds, the parrot has a seemingly impressive hearing range.
Most birds have a hearing range of between 1,000 Hz and 4,000 Hz.
However, this does vary considerably depending on the species.
The famous Horned Lark hears between 350 and 7,600 Hz.
The Canary, for example, can listen to between 1100 and 10,000.
This proves that while the parrot’s capabilities may be impressive compared to the broader bird breed, they still aren’t quite the most capable of the bunch.
How do parrots mimic so well then?
You’re bound to be wondering at this stage, how on earth, can parrots mimic humans so well if they have such poor hearing?
The answer is that you don’t need to be essential hearing functions to be able to mimic sounds.
Essentially, this is because all the mimicking takes place in their brains. Parrots lie in a different time scale to us.
They can see objects and hear things much quicker than us humans can.
They can distinguish more sights and sounds than we can.
In the same way that a blind person may adapt to hear better, a parrot simply takes everything that it can listen to and does more with it.
In conclusion, parrots do have reasonable hearing.
Of course, it isn’t up to the standard of us humans, but it still does yield a rather impressive hearing range for its breed.
It can hear a broader range of frequencies and sounds than other similar bird types.
It can hear up to double the amount of an average bird.
But what is genuinely impressive about the hearing ability of a parrot, isn’t the sheer amount that it can intake, but what it does with this input into the senses.
They are known to be remarkably accurate at mimicking their human owners and have grown a reputation for doing so, thanks to a combination of an unusual ear structure, and their brain response.
Thank you very much for reading, and I hope to see you all again soon.