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Birds Gone Bald

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Spring and songbirds go hand in hand.  Choosing a mate, gathering nesting materials and laying eggs, they are all a pleasure to see and hear, and Cardinals are especially beautiful.



I believe it was last fall when I first saw one.  A bird that looked like a scary, prehistoric creature, sitting on my bird feeder.


This Cardinal was beginning to look a little strange around his beak and eyes.



And then this one shows up and he is completely bald.  They are bizarre looking and I couldn't help but wonder what was happening or if they might be sick?  








I did a little research and learned through Cornell Lab of Ornithology that this most often happens with Blue Jays and Northern Cardinals.  Thankfully they aren't sick - they're just molting!

Molting is a normal process for birds, some birds just molt in more abnormal ways.  Molting is where a bird's feathers slowly fall out and new feathers slowly grow in.  Occasionally birds will lose all their feathers which results in these strange bald-headed birds.  Most birds have only one full molt per year but there are a few that have two.

Did you know that feathers, like human hair and nails, are non-living structures?  Molting is the way in which birds replace old and possibly damaged feathers, since they are "dead" and can't repair themselves.  I found this interesting as I had never even thought about it and figured when I found feathers on the ground it was most likely due to one bird attacking another.  

This one looks as if he is striking a pose.


I also learned that baldness may be a result from feather mites, lice, or an environmental or nutritional factor.  In these cases, there is evidence of growths or a scabby coating on the skin.  For example, Northern Cardinals have black skin, and a different color skin on the head would indicate an ailment.

I'm not sure if this is a Northern Cardinal?  If so his head should be black unless he has an ailment as mentioned above.  If it is an ailment, I wish I could help him.  All I can do is continue to provide quality birdseed and water, and that I will do!



Did you notice the cardinal's ears in the photos above?



Now this is more like it.  Full and fluffy red feathered Cardinals; they are so beautiful.



Have you ever seen strange looking birds at your feeders?


Hop on over for Amaze Me Monday...



5 comments:

  1. He need some vitamins hi is missing the feather
    So sorry about
    Good lock with him
    Blessing
    Isora

    ReplyDelete
  2. This was very interesting. I never knew this. My mother loved birds and especially red ones.

    ReplyDelete
  3. The strangest bird at my feeder is the one filling it (either me or my husband). I can remember seeing chickens molting but I have never seen any at our feeders. It makes them kind of pathetic looking, doesn't it? Great pictures though...good captures! xo Diana

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  4. Hi Cindy, thanks for leaving a comment on my blog!
    I have never seen a bird that has gone bald! The Cardinals looks really sick with their bald heads, but I am glad too read that at least in most cases it is a natural temporary phenomenon. The fully feathered the red Cardinals are truly strikingly beautiful birds. Unfortunately, I have never seen one in person, but I hope I will travel in the future to areas where they are around.
    You bird photos are stunning! Thanks for this great post!
    Warm regards,
    Christina

    ReplyDelete
  5. Wow - that is so interesting. These photo's are amazing - thanks for the great info !

    ReplyDelete

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