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Gainesville, VA, United States
My sons (ages 6 and 8) first noticed this unusual male northern cardinal at one of our feeders back in February. At that time, the cardinal still had most of his head feathers, and the most striking characteristic was the pronounced white ring around his black eye. It was especially striking in contrast to other cardinals, whose black eyes blend in perfectly with their black face masks. My sons affectionately nicknamed this bird “Crazy Eye.” We have been seeing him at our feeders several times a week, but it has been very hard for me to get a picture of him until today, as he is extremely skittish (more so than the other cardinals at the feeders). I lucked out today and was able to get few pictures through the window. As is visible in the pictures, this bird has lost most of his head feathers over the last two months. He does not act injured or ill; the only behavioral difference I can see from other cardinals is its skittishness.
"Crazy Eye" cardinal on the ground under our feeders
Hey Suzanne, this is actually quite common in Cardinals and Blue Jays. Sometimes when molting, they will lose all of their head feathers for a while. The feathers will return soon and it does not affect their health. Thanks for sharing Crazy Eye with us!
Sorry, I forgot to mention this in my first comment. Sometimes it is caused by mites, but most of the time it is completely normal.
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