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Emory Winship

Sonoma, CA, USA


We have been privileged to have a growing family of Hooded Orioles in our garden since May 15, 2018 – apparently still quite rare in Northern California. The mating pair we first spotted have produced at least three hatchings, although we fear perhaps the latest was a sibling inbreeding. The picture here is a young male Hooded Oriole we spotted August 22, 2018. Two obviously sibling females appear quite fine and squabble like siblings as seen in the other photo here. We don’t know if inbreeding could have resulted in the deformity seen here. We were hoping others might weigh in on the subject. Thanks.


Deformed Male Hooded Oriole And Sisters

Deformed Male Hooded Oriole

5 replies on “Deformed Male Hooded Oriole and Sisters”

Holly Faulkner, Project Assistant says:

Hi Emory,
Birds usually go through some sort of molt in late summer, and some birds will molt all of their head feathers at once. This is more common in Blue Jays and Cardinals, but it’s not unheard of in other species. Baldness also may result from feather mites, lice, or an environmental or nutritional factor. Often in these cases, there is evidence of growths or a scabby coating on the skin. Since this bird looks to have unblemished skin, it’s likely just having an abnormal molt (staggered molt of feathers is more common in other species). Fortunately, new feathers should grow back within a few weeks.

Emory Winship says:

Hi Holly,
Thanks so much for the info! We are fairly new to birding but have a garden full so we have much to learn. Hopefully he’ll hang around long enough for us to see him regrow, but each new hatching seems to take off after about 4 weeks.

Holly Faulkner, Project Assistant says:

Happy to help! And if you don’t get a chance to see the re-grown feathers this year, it’s always possible they will return next season. Best of luck!

Bruce Hanover says:

Hi, I know this is a late comment but I couldn’t help but notice that the beautiful colours of this oriole male are adult colours, not juvenile. the juvenile’s yellow is much duller, much like the female’s and it’s black is spotty until it gradually fills in as it grows into adulthood. I’m curious though, since the time has passed, if it was indeed a molting, as suggested by Emory above, and (hopefully) the feathers grew back in. Perhaps it wasn’t around long enough…? Very unusual looking! I was searching for some pics of a molting hooded oriole as I captured one this morning with a blotch of different coloured feathers on it’s wing.

Texas Bird Family says:

Some birds lost their head feathers. He is just molting and inbreeding would not cause this.

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