Azimuthal Sound Localization in the European Starling (Sturnus Vulgaris): I. Physical Binaural Cues

J Comp Physiol A. 1992 Feb;170(2):243-51. doi: 10.1007/BF00196906.


The physical measurements reported here test whether the European starling (Sturnus vulgaris) evaluates the azimuth direction of a sound source with a peripheral auditory system composed of two acoustically coupled pressure-difference receivers (1) or of two decoupled pressure receivers (2). A directional pattern of sound intensity in the free-field was measured at the entrance of the auditory meatus using a probe microphone, and at the tympanum using laser vibrometry. The maximum differences in the sound-pressure level measured with the microphone between various speaker positions and the frontal speaker position were 2.4 dB at 1 and 2 kHz, 7.3 dB at 4 kHz, 9.2 dB at 6 kHz, and 10.9 dB at 8 kHz. The directional amplitude pattern measured by laser vibrometry did not differ from that measured with the microphone. Neither did the directional pattern of travel times to the ear. Measurements of the amplitude and phase transfer function of the starling's interaural pathway using a closed sound system were in accord with the results of the free-field measurements. In conclusion, although some sound transmission via the interaural canal occurred, the present experiments support the hypothesis 2 above that the starling's peripheral auditory system is best described as consisting of two functionally decoupled pressure receivers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Animals
  • Birds / physiology*
  • Cochlea / physiology
  • Cues
  • Sound Localization / physiology*
  • Vibration