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!
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