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Submitted By

Leslie Corcelli

Reston, VA, United States


This Carolina wren has been around here for two years now. I don’t know what happened to its tail, but it’s thriving without one




No Tail Feathers!

27 replies on “No tail feathers!”

George says:

I also have a Carolina Wren at my feeder in upstate NY this season that has absolutely no tail feathers. Very strange, I think, and am wondering as to what the cause might be.

Barbara says:

I have a Carolina Wren without tail feathers too. Unfortunately, it flew into my enclosed porch through a cat door. The cat grabbed it, pulling out its feathers. The cat brought it into the house, I caught it, and it is still alive. Very feisty little guys! I am hoping it survives the night so I can release it. Glad to know others have seen surviving birds minus tail feathers. There is hope! I have meal worms and seeds in the box, along with branches and a wren house. Hope it works.

Elizabeth Neace says:

We, too, have a Carolina Wren with no tail feathers. He sings his little heart out, and does not seem to be bothered by that, but we do wonder what happened to him.

Karen says:

We had a pair of wrens that have been hanging around,singing for us and each other for several years … what a joy they are to listen to and watch. Recently one died and I felt so bad for its mate, but recently we are seeing one with no tail hanging with the other one. The missing tail feathers seem to bother me more that the little bird, but still wonder why they are missing. Anybody have an answer.

Holly Faulkner, Project Assistant says:

Hi Karen, Occasionally a bird will lose feathers in a close call with a predator. This may be why you’re not seeing any tail feathers at the moment. Alternatively, you could be seeing a juvenile that hasn’t fully grown them in yet. Rest assured, the feathers should grow in within the next few weeks.

Lydia Zook says:

Two Carolina wrens flew into our house when the door was open. It seemed like they were looking for a spot to build a nest , because we have other wrens that have built nests in our outbuildings. One flew into a sticky fly trap . We took it off but it lost almost all it’s tail feathers and some on it’s breast . I’m not sure if I should release it or keep it in a cage till it’s feathers are grown back . It can not fly and is very nervous in the little cage

Holly Faulkner, Project Assistant says:

Hi Lydia, Please consider calling a local wildlife rehabilitator, or your local fish and game service for advice on this matter.

Peggy Bauer says:

I keep a fairly wide strip of fly tape in my barn to attract adult flies so they don’t bother my horses. About 6 months ago, I walked into the barn to find a sparrow stuck to the tape with it’s tail and wings firmly attached. I was able to carefully peel each of it’s wing feathers off the tape, one at a time. It’s tail feathers stayed on the tape after I freed the bird, which I appropriately named Bob. It had been hanging out in my barn and taking advantage of the kitty’s water, seeds from the hay and, occasionally a bit of dry cat food for quite some time. I felt awful and made a protective cage around the fly tape so that couldn’t happen again. Bob was still able to fly and lived in an arborvitae very near the barn. It was very easy to identify Bob as he/she was the only bird without a tail. I say “was” because its tail has now grown back. Bob has a mate and they both hang out between their nest in the bushes and the barn and both share the kitty’s food and water. This cat has always been a fierce hunter but she seems to like to watch these two birds. I’ve gotten photos of them in very close proximity to each other. I lure her away from her food dish after she eats, in the morning, so the birds can have their treat before I pick up her food dish for the day so as not to attract skunks etc. It’s been fun to watch them. I was never tuned into how cool a common sparrow could be until Bob came along.

Deborah Howes says:

We have a Carolina Wren at our feeder without tail feathers. It doesn’t seem to be affected at all but it certainly got our attention! I am glad to know that they will grow back. We participate in the Cornell Feeder watch program, so we are particularly tuned in to identifying marks and bird behavior. This was a first for us.

Hanna Forrest says:


Bethany says:

There’s a pigeon out there without tail feathers due to my dog :/ I thought it was a goner for sure when she grabbed it, but it flew away minus its tail.

mitch says:

i have red cardinal here in n.w. fl. with no tail feathers, seems to fly ok

Cathwrem says:

Thank you all for reassuring me. I have a beautiful brown thrasher with no tail, but he flies just finr and mingles with all the other species including squirrels eating seed from the ground in my back yard!

Ewan says:

Glad to see others have seen other wrens thrive without tail feathers. I have a pair nesting in my garage but one does not have its tail feathers. Was a bit worried for it, but both of them seem to be fully functional parents at the moment and it makes it easy to tell the two apart. Love hearing them and seeing them fluttering around my backyard all the time.

Had another pair also nest in my garage 2 years ago. No idea if it’s the same pair or maybe one of the babies from that brood returned there to nest. Since both their tails were so distinctive before I definitely took notice this time.

Phyllis says:

I’m so glad to have answers to my question. I live in NW AZ- miss the Cardinals, etc., that were around in Virginia – my home state ( to Leslieabove comment- I lived in Reston when it was new!). I put water out and quick oats and Cheerios and fresh water a couple times a day- started it for a dove couple and last summer 14 Northern Mocking Birds – they don’t sing like the Eastern ones- now there a some Cow Birds. And a couple Great Tailed Grackles There iarr about three baby Cow Birds – two almost as big as parents, but still begging to be fed. Then noticed one baby with only a short tail. We have a cinder block wall around the yard- it has tried to get up there. I just saw it fly a short distance horizontally so it can fly a little. So now after reading comments I have hope that the tail will grow out and the mean birds don’t hurt it . While the dove was nesting for about a month, the male chased the Graclkle and other doves- think it still swoops after the Grackle. I’m pretty sure that I saw a head of a little one in the nest, but haven’t seen any on the ground with parents.

Valerie Myrick says:

I have a Robin at my birdbath that has been attacked by a cat. No still feathers at all and some feathers on the back are gone. I’ve noticed that there are some flies on the wound on the back, but it’s not open and there’s no blood. It can still fly, buy I don’t want to chase after it in case it flies away. Can I do anything to help the bird of should I leave it be? I have an indoor cat so I can’t bring it in. Also, it’s 1:05 pm & no vets are open.

Holly Faulkner, Project Assistant says:

Hi Valerie, It’s probably best to leave this bird be unless it’s having trouble getting around. If it can eat and fly, it should be Ok, however, you may wish to call a local wildlife rehabilitator. These people are specially trained and federally certified to work with wildlife, and can be a great resource to consult in such situations. They are also often available 24/7. If you’re not sure who your local rehabber is, contact your state’s wildlife department, who should keep a list of those that are federally certified.

Kelsey Gaylor says:

I have observed the more dominant Carolina Wren pulling the tail feathers out of the younger/weaker birds. We have monitored this throughout several baby seasons.For more information feel free to contact me.

Becky Kidwell says:

I have a small female cardinal frequently visiting my feeder. She is tailess, but appears to be doing well.

Bil Kerrigan says:

Just saw a tail-less Carolina Wren in the shade of my Redbud tree this morning. My first thought was that it was a Red-breasted Nuthatch, as I couldn’t get a good view of coloration, but then determined it was a Carolina Wren. Thought it might be very young one.

James Joyce says:

I have a tailless Carolina Wren in Houston Texas. I have been feeding birds for years and especially enjoy my wrens. A few weeks ago I noticed what I thought was a different species of bird because it didn’t have a tail but it could fly just fine. Then I realized it was a Carolina! First for me. Apparently they are “common”? Thanks for all the excellent posts.

Sierra Martinez says:

Hello my name is Sierra and I seen this bird staying around my cars got a close look its missing the 1 middle feathers on tail and can only fly about 1 inch it looks like a predator for ahold of her tail so ill be taking care of her until they grow back any advice ? J have a meaning here that let’s her dog chase birds and eat our wild ground hogs don’t want to risk leaving her outside especially since she takes shelter under the cars

Holly Grant, Project Assistant says:

Hi Sierra, It’s imperative that you contact a local certified wildlife rehabilitator, or wildlife veterinarian, before going any further. Caring for wild birds requires federal permits and these professionals will have the necessary resources to care for wild birds properly. If you’re not sure who your local rehabilitator is, contact your state or provinces’ wildlife agency.

We have two Carolina wrens at our suet feeder this morn and both are missing their tail feathers! From the comments here, it’s not that unusual. I was assuming a narrow escape with a hawk. They appear fine otherwise and still feeding voraciously on the suet! Thanks for the info!

Patricia R Wright says:

I have a Carolina ran that has been coming to my feeders for about three weeks now that has somehow lost its tail feathers. I wondered how the little fella was going to get along, and I am much relieved to find there is successful thriving post tail loss!

Ben says:

Well we have a baby Wren but it has no tail.and they have been coming around every year.and have came back because they trust us

Elizabeth Lemon says:

I have a brown thrasher that comes to my feeder with no tail feathers!

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