One day this week, I looked out of my kitchen window and thought I saw a black-headed cardinal in the backyard but then decided that I was probably imagining it. But yesterday, with camera in hand, I was able to get a photo of the bird. I have found two main theories about the baldness. It seems that after nesting season, cardinals molt and a number lose all their head feathers, revealing their skin beneath. The other theory is that the condition could be caused by mites. In both cases, the feathers will grow back in time. I found it interesting that the circle seen below and slightly behind the eye is actually an ear hole.
“I love bald men. Just because you’ve lost your fuzz don’t mean you ain’t a peach.” ~Dolly Parton
13 thoughts on “A Bald Cardinal”
Poor guy… how embarrassing! 😉 Love the DP quote. 🙂
Thanks, Eliza. He’s the only one in our backyard with this special look. 🙂
I wouldn’t worry about these birds, Rebecca. They are just molting. I have them too in my backyard, where I see them daily. 🙂
Thanks, H. J.! It sure does look strange when they only lose the feathers on their head.
I’ve been there, done that. Poor little guy.
It certainly makes it easy to tell him apart from the other birds.
I’m sure he will be back to normal in no time. 🙂
For a few years we had one or a few blue jay individuals missing their head feathers like this cardinal.I never learned why this happens, I am not an ornithologist, but since it kept on for a few years I thought it might be genetic.
That sounds very possible. I’ve seen photos of the blue jays and they look as strange as the cardinals. I’ve read several theories on the internet, but all seem to end with the comment that they really just don’t yet know.
Poor little guy! We had pet birds for years and I felt badly for them when they were molting. They would be listless, wouldn’t sing if canaries, or talk if parakeets, for about 10 weeks from when they started molting. I have seen photos of Jays with a lot of head feathers missing as they are knocking their head feathers against a side of the nest or against bark or from trying to access the nest through the bushes to feed their young, but that is only raggedy feathers around the head/neck, not total feather loss. You can’t help but f eel badly for him.
On a day as hot as today, he may be glad not to have all those feathers. It does make it easy to distinguish him from the other male cardinals. 🙂
Hopefully they grow back eventually Rebecca and it is moulting or from tending to its young. Both Northern Cardinals take care of feeding their young. I used to see them nesting in our barberry bushes. Poor guy.