Strange Birds?

Every fall, many people ask:  "I have a bald bird at my feeder! Is it sick?  What should I do?"

These bald birds are often Blue Jays and Northern Cardinals-- which seem to look EXTRA weird because they are brightly colored and typically have a tall crest on their heads. Thankfully, most of these birds aren't sick--they're just molting!  In late summer and fall, when a bird molts, it usually looses and replaces its feathers gradually, but occasionally a bird loses all of the feathers on its head. This is particularly true of Blue Jays, many of which molt the feathers of the head, or "capital tract," all at once. The result is a very strange looking bald bird! This bald appearance lasts for about a week before new feathers replace the molted ones.

Want to read more, and see some very strange photos?  Visit this site from the Cornell Lab's Project FeederWatch. One neat thing to notice in the photos: what a bird's ear looks like!

Keep your eyes out for bald birds!
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