How Good Is Parrot Hearing? Learn Why Parrots Are So Good at Mimicking

Have you ever wondered how well your parrot can hear? When I call my pets, and there is no response, I always wonder whether they are just grumpy or whether they can’t actually hear me.

Generally, all carnivores have an excellent hearing because they need to it for hunting, and herbivores rely on it for survival. But, considering that parrots are omnivores, it can go either way! How do parrots rank on the list of all animals? Can they even be better at it than humans?

Generally, a parrot’s hearing is okay for it to survive in the wild. Unfortunately, it’s not as great as hearing some other animals possess, but it’s of average strength for birds, who are more likely to be gifted with sharp hearing.

You should also know one interesting fact about human sense if we are talking about such an interesting topic. Though people can perceive and interpret a wide range of sound waves, we are not at the top of the chain, unfortunately. Granted, parrots do not have a broader range than humans, but some other gifted animals hear much more than people can imagine.

How Do Parrots Hear Compared to Humans?

can parrots hear

Although your bird may be able to hear higher frequencies than people, their “ordinary” hearing is worth more than humans’. And that is because it is a little detail – parrots lack ears in the form that we have. They do not have an outer ear that would allow them to catch sounds better. It’s probably nature’s way of ensuring the top flying conditions and forms.

Instead, their inner ear has to do all the job. In addition, even this organ is covered in feathers, making it even harder to catch sounds properly. Instead, it reduces the wind that might get into the ear while flying. That’s handy, but such comes with its drawbacks.
However, as we all know, that doesn’t deter parrots from singing tunes and expertly imitating human speech.

The frequency of bird songs ranges from 1,000 Hz to 8,000 Hz. Some birds can go even higher.

Humans, early in life, can hear 20Hz and 20,000 Hz. However, the upper ranges are limited as we grow old.
Thus, considering the lowering of the frequency range in humans with age, we can compare a bird’s hearing with senior people.

How Do Parrots Hear?

how well do parrots hear

But how can a parrot hear anything if they don’t have an external organ and their inner one is completely covered? You may wonder about such strange anatomy. If so, read further!

Parrots’ inner ear is much similar in anatomy to the bird’s reptile ancestors. They have only one inner ear bone that is known as the columella. In comparison, mammals have three ear bones:

  • malleus (hammer)
  • stapes (anvil)
  • incus (stirrup)

Humans have this structure as well, considering we are mammals also.

Unfortunately, parrots cannot hear a clock ticking or similar sounds as they are not loud enough.

However, rest assured that your bird will hear you talking to it perfectly fine. And you don’t even need to be loud; just speak in your normal voice. Quiet whispering may be hard to hear, though.

In general, birds are not as sensitive to sounds as people. They do not bother with squeaking or scratching! And even when you think that your bird becomes too annoying and loud, it’ll enjoy the tone! And any parrot owner knows how loud and high-pitch the bird’s screams can be. Even if it goes for it the whole day, other birds nearby won’t be bothered. Unlike the poor owner!

The reason for such lowered sensitivity lies in the bird’s hair cells are situated in the area. Their function lies mainly in detecting the transmission of sound vibration. As they catch it, the vibrations are changed into an electrical signal passed on to the brain. As a result, birds’ and humans’ inner ear hair cells are different, which leads to differences in hearing abilities.

In the wild, birds rely more on vision for hunting and survival.

How Parrots Hear Compared to Other Birds?

parrot ears

Okay, now we know that parrots cannot hear as well as humans but still can perfectly hear your speaking voice to the point of precise imitation.

But how is their hearing compared to other birds? Is there an aerial leader of hearing, or are all birds different?

I’ll answer the last question first – all birds have different hearing abilities. And parrots are not the best of them.

The undoubtful leader is an owl. The bird’s hearing is way better than most mammals have, even cats and dogs! Owls have external ears; they are twisted and located at different heights to catch the precise location of sounds.
Pigeons also have an incredible ability to catch infrasounds (lower than humans can hear).

But where are parrots in comparison?

Well, our favorite pets cannot hear below or above the human range, and they are not as precise as owls.

Most birds have a range from 1,000Hz to 4,000Hz. And as I’ve mentioned in the beginning, parrots have higher upper limits that reach 8,000 and sometimes even higher.

Thus, a parrot’s hearing is better than most birds’ but not the best.

Why Do Parrots Mimic So Well?

Then what is the secret of parrot’s mimicking human speech and various sounds if their hearing is sub-par at best? How can they do it?
The secret lies in the fact that the ability is largely dependent on the brain! Parrots’ brains work faster than humans, and they can perceive minor details about sounds quicker. They interpret sounds better. This is why hearing is not the determining factor here.

If you want to buy a talking parrot with impressive “speaking” skills on a budget, read my previous article on What Talking Parrots Are the Cheapest

Conclusion

As you see, parrots’ hearing is just enough for them to function comfortably. It’s almost double the range of an average bird but is lacking in comparison to mammals and even a couple of bird types!

Even though parrots do not have external ears but only inner ears and holes covered with feathers, their brain is so brilliant that it can create perfect mimicking with even sub-par hearing abilities.

Rest assured that your bird will have no problem hearing you and copying your phrases. The bird will still love hearing your voice and communicating!