Barn Owls

Mother Earth News plays advocate for Barn Owls:

When a barn owl hears a sound, it turns its head toward the source until the sound strikes both ears simultaneously. That gives the barn owl the sound’s horizontal position. Determining the vertical position is a hit more complicated, but vital-without it, that dive for yummy rodent flesh could be a few inches too high (a clean miss) or too low (crash). The secret is in the lopsided arrangement of the bird’s ear openings. The right ear opening is lower on the face and tilts slightly upward. The left ear is higher than the right and tilts down. As a result, sounds from above are louder in the owl’s right ear. and those from below are louder in the left. The differences in volume tell a barn owl whether a sound is coming from above or below and reveal its exact elevation. When a sound is equally loud in both ears, the source is at eye level.

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