Do Chickens Have Noses? What’s Thier Head Anatomy?

a beautiful chicken posing for a head shot
I don’t see a nose, do you? A beak ain’t a nose 🙂

From how humans interact with chickens, it’s easy to assume that these animals have noses like ours.

However, the truth is that chickens don’t actually have anything resembling a nose or nostrils — so, no, chickens don’t have a nose. While they possess certain features that may appear similar to human noses, their anatomy is quite different.


So what exactly do chickens have instead of a nose?

The Beak

The most prominent feature on their face – and one that can be easily mistaken for a nose – is their beak.

This sharp, curved structure is an integral part of the bird’s anatomy and serves multiple purposes. It helps with preening feathers and grooming other body parts, as well as feeding themselves, picking up tiny objects, and displaying aggression towards others.

Furthermore, their beak acts as a sort of air filter for the chicken, helping them smell their environment by trapping airborne particles in its ridges and grooves before reaching the respiratory system.

Related: My Chicken’s Vent Is Pulsating, Why?

The Nares

In addition to the beak, chickens also possess two small holes above their eyes, known as nares or nostrils. These are not where they smell; instead, they provide scent-free air directly into the respiratory system so that the chicken can breathe efficiently and adequately process oxygen from its environment.

Other Parts Of The Head Anatomy

Chickens are fascinating creatures, indeed, and you can see so even more when you look at the rest of their heads’ anatomy.

The way their eyes and ears are positioned makes them even more interesting.

Chickens have two eyes on either side of their head, but unlike humans, they don’t have eyebrows. Imagine a human with eyes near their ears, but without eyebrows. Instead of eyebrows, chickens have an eye ring around the eye that is usually a lighter shade than the rest of its face – the eye ring is basically an eyelid that will slide to cover the eye when needed.

They also have small earlobes behind the eyes, while chickens’ wattles hang down from their heads around the beak area.

Understanding chickens’ facial features can help us recognize different breeds and appreciate chickens as an amazing and varied species with quite distinct subspecies as well.

Fun fact: the color of a chicken’s earlobes can often be used to predict the color of the eyes they lay! For instance, red earlobes often mean brown eggs.

More on chicken eggs: Why Do Chickens Lay Unfertile Eggs?

Can Chickens Smell?

Though chickens lack noses as humans have, this doesn’t mean they are incapable of smelling things around them; research suggests that birds actually have a more acute sense of smell than humans do!

Each nostril on a chicken contains olfactory sensors, which help them detect scents in their environment. These sensors can pick up on thousands of different odors, which helps them navigate and identify food sources quickly and accurately.

Interestingly, when alarmed or threatened by something unfamiliar in their surroundings, chickens will often hold their breath temporarily to focus better on what’s happening around them. In some cases, this allows them to detect potential predators before taking any action, such as fleeing or fighting back if necessary.

Do Chicken’s Noses Run?

Chickens also don’t get runny noses like humans do when we’re sick or allergic to something; instead, they exhibit signs of illness, such as coughing and sneezing (though these are not typical).

When ill, they also show lethargy, loss of appetite, and feather-pecking behavior changes. These are all things you should watch out for if you care for your feathered friends at home!

Of course, prevention is always crucial to monitoring your birds’ health, so make sure you keep an eye out for any warning signs and consult an avian veterinarian immediately if you notice anything off with your flock’s behavior pattern.

Another reason you might need to consult a vet: Why Are My Chickens Laying Down A Lot?


In conclusion, while chickens may not have noses like humans, there are still several ways through which these animals experience smells in their environments. This includes through both nares located near each eye and specialized sensory receptors found inside their beaks!

Knowing more about our feathered friends helps us understand how best to care for them, so make sure you use these facts in your poultry-keeping routine whenever possible!

Photo by Katie Bernotsky on Unsplash.