Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Vulturine

Now this is what I call a bad hair day!
I saw this poor guy at my feeders yesterday.
 
 
A male Northern Cardinal in molt.
 
Because feathers wear out, birds molt old ones once or twice a year, usually in late summer and early fall, and grow new replacements. When it comes to molting, there are a lot of "except for the exceptions." A cardinal or blue jay may molt its head feathers all at once instead of gradually. But why?
 
Many people think birds may lose all of their head feathers because of an infestation of lice or mites. Others believe it is due to a nutritional deficiency. I also read that losing head feathers during the post-nuptial molt (after nesting is over), is a normal process in some species including Cardinals, Blue Jays and Common Grackles

 
David Bonter with Project FeederWatch, says "Birds molt at different times and in different ways. There are some general patterns in terms of which feathers are replaced at which time of the year and in which order. In reality, however, there’s an incredible amount of variability in molt patterns, even within the same sex or age class of birds within a species at the same time of the year.”
 
Not to worry,
 
 
in a couple of weeks he will be as handsome as this fellow I'm sure! 
 
sharing with...
 
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51 comments:

lina@women said...

Poor guy. Hope he'll be handsome again soon.

Stewart M said...

Thats not a good look!

Thanks in advance for the WBW link - I've not even sorted out this weeks pictures yet!!!

Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

Elephant's Child said...

And in the meantime, he is a sad and sorry sight. A naked bird does look soooo naked...

Gemma Wiseman said...

O this is quite sad! Poor little guy! May he find his beautiful feathers soon! Yet his tail seems OK!

Andy said...

Wow, that's amazing. I have cardinals around my house and have never seen them in the molting stage. By the way... excellent photos.

Buttons said...

Wow great shots and information. Looks like a no hair day:) B

Minoru Saito said...

Hi! Nice shots. The last one is stunning beautiful.

Carver said...

Great shots. I think birds are so fun when they are having a bad hair moment.

Michele @ The Nest at Finch Rest said...

OMG.

I have never seen a balding molting bird - and that DOES look like a vulture.

I had no idea of any of this.

You got an amazing shot, well done.
Thanks for the learning lesson, too, one I am shocked to learn! (blush)

beep said...

What a tuching story.Hope he gets beter!

Gail Dixon (La.Belle) said...

Wow, I thought that was a different species altogether! Poor fella. I appreciate all the info along with the beautiful photos.

Sylvia K said...

A bad, no-feather day it is, but what great captures! Interesting information! I've never seen a balding bird and WOW what a difference feathers make! But I guess they say the same thing about balding humans!!!

TexWisGirl said...

they really do look absolutely pitiful when they're like this! never good to see a bird's ears. :)

Linda W. said...

Talk about your male baldness! :) Interesting photos and facts. Thanks for sharing.

Leora said...

Hm. I saw cardinals this morning in my backyard - they looked a bit different than those I see in winter. I wonder if they were molting? Thanks for the info.

Lisa Gordon said...

Oh my goodness, bad hair day indeed!
Poor fella.
Believe it or not, this happens during nest building.
Mom "usues" Dad's head feathers (and many times, chest feathers) to help "feather" the nest!

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Karen! I had absolutely no idea about this. At first I thought you had a new and different bird. Thanks for the information and I do hope he gets his handsomeness back soon.

MyMaracas said...

We had a bald cardinal last year. It is a strange looking critter!

HOOTIN ANNI said...

Poor fellow...
I saw an Oriole that was going into molt and it's not a pretty sight either. But this Cardinal needs to see a stylist. [kidding]

Gordon said...

What an unusual example of a Cardinal, interesting shot though.
All the best Gordon.

HansHB said...

A great seie of photos!

EG CameraGirl said...

Even a handsome guy looks pretty bad when he's molting, eh?

Vilt og vakkert said...

Heisann!
I must admit: Not all birds attract me..., but most of them do ;:OD)

Gary said...

They always look so upset in molt. Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

mick said...

Very interesting photos and info. He certainly does look scraggly!

eileeninmd said...

Poor thing, it does look sad looking. Great shots!

Lois Evensen said...

Great series of images. Yes, he does look like he is having a terrible feather day!

Connie Smiley said...

Oh Dear, he almost looks like a red vulture! I've never seen anything like it. Interesting post, and great shots.

Carletta said...

Thanks for sharing these shots Karen. I've never seen one look like this.
He does look a little worse for wear at the moment.

Rambling Woods said...

I always feel badly for these proud birds when they are head-bare due to molt...I hope they don't know. LOL.. Michelle

Icy BC said...

I think he is very unique looking anyway! Beautiful guy..

Debbie said...

Great close ups Karen, so many pretty details.

Thanks for sharing this interesting information, I didn't know most of this and it's neat that their feathers grow back so quickly!!

Nora at Island Rambles said...

Gosh I never have seen such a dominant molt, especially on the head. Interesting post. cheers.

Karen said...

Glad to hear he will get some more feathers, beautiful shots.

Les... said...

oh Gawddddd... what a tragic sight!!! *LOL*

poor fellow, good thing you dont provide mirrors along with the birdfeeders! *ROFL*

NatureFootstep said...

you have ato feel sorry for him even if it is natural. Great shot.

Phil said...

He's getting some good nutrition at your feeder Karen so hopefully he'll be back to normal and as handsome as ever soon. I think your picture reminds us how birds are realted to reptiles. Super shots and information.

Liz said...

Poor fella. Truly a bad hair day.

hand-painted fan

Ken Schneider said...

Bad hair, no hair, whatever you call it I hope he gets to looking better soon!

Kusum Sanu said...

Glad to know it was molting, initially I thought it was sick! Beautiful pictures though!

Gunilla Bäck said...

Poor fellow1 Bad hair day indeed.

i stora drag said...

Well, that looked a bit weird! Poor bird!

We rang the police about a week ago and they came and talked to some of the illegal fishermen.
Greetings Pia

Jan n Jer said...

So glad you explained this procedure. The first time I saw a cardinal doing this, I thought it was a freak of nature!

grammie g said...

Hi Karen....does look humiliating for the poor beauty that they usually are!!
Strangely as long as I have been bird watching , which is in many years ; )
I have never seen a bird in molt even with them coming to the feeders!!
Interesting post..thanks for the info!!
Grace

Dave said...

Life cycles... the ups and downs of the beauty therapist

Great post

Frank said...

Most birds hide away during their post breeding moult. I guess he will not have many friends for a while.

Indrani said...

Good it could find some food to eat. Great capture. When full with feathers they must be looking good.

RedPat said...

Wow, I had no idea!

That Someone said...

He's a handsome brute.

Me said...

OMG!! Handsome brut...NOT!

Neil said...

Interesting series.