About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Photo Share: Brown bird with two distinctive head feathers

Hi, I am not a bird watcher and don't have any resources for identifying birds and while trying to find a picture of a bird that met this description "light brown bird two distinctive head feathers head" I came upon your web site. I live near Niagara Falls. Any ideas?

Young Northern Cardinals have ashy brown feathers and black bills rather than the orange-red of the adults. They change gradually to their adult coloration three to four months after hatching.
Your photos show a juvenile cardinal going through a first molt. The replacement of all or part of the feathers is called a molt. Until they have commenced their pre-formative molt, sex cannot be reliably determined, although it is likely that those showing a fair amount of red on the wings are males. By winter your cardinal will have a new set of feathers to insulate it against the cold weather.

Thanks for the quick response.  We do have a fair number of cardinals around here and I am surprised I  never have seen a young one before but as I said, I am not a bird watcher.  Well, maybe I am one now :-) Feel free to use the pictures of the "Molting Juvenile Cardinal with Antennae" on your Friday post page..Thanks again.

I thought it was more of a big-eared bunny cardinal. When I see the babies I always think of Cinderella. "Cinder" Ella had to sleep near cinders in the kitchen fireplace to keep warm in her stepmother's house but grew up to be a beautiful person. Cardinal babies look like they've been rolling in the ashes of a campfire but turn out to be one of the most sought after birds to have in the yard.

Thank you for sharing your photos. If anyone else would like to share a photograph of nature send it to bloubird@gmail.com and I'll put it on the Friday Photo posts.
Related Articles:
- Baby birds at the feeders http://goo.gl/UGCokz
- Cardinals mate for life http://goo.gl/Fz1CSR
- Cardinal Fun Facts http://bit.ly/twE6NV
- What can I feed the cardinals to make them redder? http://bit.ly/rAArXw
- Why birds molt http://bit.ly/rGaqRL
- Types of Bird feathers http://bit.ly/w0U1M6

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