Project FeederWatch

Photo Submission

Submitted By

Bob Vuxinic -

Crossville, TN, United States


Blue Jays of all ages have a “bald stage” in which all capital-tract feathers, those on the head, are dropped nearly simultaneously, resulting in individuals being nearly bald for about a week. The first photo was taken on September 4th, and the second was taken 5 days later. In another 4 days, the bird looked just about normal.


Bald Stage Of A Molting Blue Jay

Bald stage of a molting Blue Jay

Recent Comments (14)

  • Laura Adams says:

    Last year I had a female Northern Cardinal, completely baldheaded, at my birdfeeder for several weeks. My pictures were not the greatest but I did get a few photos. I was glad to see the articles in this website that mentioned that this happened among cardinals.

    Thanks for all of your news!

  • Barbara says:

    I’m seeing a juvenile bald-headed cardinal at my feeder lately. I’m sure it’s a juvenile, as he still is doing the wing-flutter thing, begging to be fed, although he eats independently. I wonder if the unusual dry and hot conditions this summer have prompted more of this than usual. I don’t recall seeing the phenomenon in other summers.

  • Portia McCracken says:

    There are several bald male cardinals around Greensboro NC. I was very curious when I saw the first one earlier in the spring, and then I grew alarmed when I saw more. There’s one outside my front window now, enjoying the birdbath with a number of other birds of different species.

    I have a lot of blue jays here, as well, but they all appear to be in full plumage.

    These bald cardinals are very worrisome, and I’m concerned their condition could spread to other species. Have there been any new developments in the research?

  • Lisa Knudsen says:

    I live in Fort Collins, CO. Last summer I saw a bald-headed Blue Jay drinking from the birdbath on several successive days. I figured that he or she was a youngster but I had never seen one before.

  • Heidi Armbruster says:

    We have a bald headed Baltimore Orieole at our hummingbird feeder, do they loose feathers like the blue jays?

  • Thanks Bob,
    and many thanks to Kent, at the Vermont Center for Ecostudies, for taking the time
    in explaining why two of my feeder blue jays, looked more like Steller hybrids,, almost all of their of their crown, nape and chin,, were black,, even the crests..
    They were not bald, just black,,,all black..

    posted one picture..

  • Gary Behrle says:

    We have lived here in Windsor, Colorado for six years now and have fed the blue jays peanuts all that time. This is the first year that we’ve seen the bald headed jays. Such a dramatic change! Glad to know that it’s normal.

  • Ann says:

    I have had 3 male bald cardinals at my bird feeder since at least May and it is now September. One has a gray bald head, another with a black bald head and a third that is thinner with a black bald head. All 3 also have many gray feathers mixed within the red. I have never seen this before. There are several female cardinals around and one female at least that exchanges seeds with the larger black headed male. I think these bald males have more than molting going on.

  • trish says:

    I rescued a baby blue jay over 2 months ago and he always came back everytime he was hungry and thirsty and wanted to take a bath .I put him in a cage one day because it was a very bad storm here and we have alot of stray cats .I noticed his left wong is lower and he cant fly now but i let him out and he bounces all over to get around and he eats and drinks great still.I think he must of gotten the one wing caught in bar of cage .How can i fix it and he is molting .I want to let him free but i am afraid because he cant fly now that a cat will definaltely grab him .How can i help fix his left wing?

    • Holly Faulkner, Project Assistant says:

      Hi Trish, Please bring the bird to a local certified wildlife rehabilitator or wildlife veterinarian. These are the only people legally allowed to treat wild birds. Handling, treating, or possessing wild birds native to North America is against federal law without such a permit. If you don’t know who your local wildlife rehabilitator is, contact your province or state’s wildlife agency.

  • Corinne Marin says:

    May 17, a Sunday, I found over a day 13 Blue Jay feathers scattered all around my feeder and rest of house. Its too early for molting, right? No known cats here. I guess it doesnt look good for feathers’ owner.

  • Bill Mosko says:

    Just saw our first bhnc. Kinda disappointed as we thought we discovered a new visitor in our backyard.

  • Judy says:

    I have a friendly Stellers Jay who comes and just hangs out with me. All of a sudden, his topknot is down to two floppy long feathers and the whole back of his head is bald. Is this a normal molt? End of July 2020. His bald area looks to have white speckles. I was thinking this may be where the new feathers will grow in?

    Second question: I put out peanuts for him. He spends a lot of time “shopping”. He picks up each peanut (in the shell) and puts it down and picks up the same one again or a different one. Over and over, he picks up and puts down. Finally he selects one and off he goes. Is he weighing the peanuts? Sometimes he has a really hard time deciding. And sometimes he decides to take a smaller one. I can’t understand what his “shopping” is about.

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