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Photo Submission

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Lincoln, MA, USA


This cardinal was missing most of its head feathers and had a damaged wing feather.



Cardinal With Missing Feathers

2 replies on “Cardinal with missing feathers”

Lucy says:

I have a male cardinal just like this, maybe worse, appearing at my birdfeeder right now. The female looks just fine. Anyone have an idea what’s going on with this poor bird?

Holly Faulkner, Project Assistant says:

Hi Lucy, Bald-headed birds are often the result of an abnormal molt. Staggered feather replacement is the normal pattern for most birds, but some species such as Northern Cardinals and Blue Jays occasionally molt all of the head feathers at once. However, baldness may also 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 such as the photo above. Northern Cardinals have black skin, and a different color skin on the head of a bald-headed cardinal usually indicates an ailment.

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