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.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Featherless Cardinal in spring

I read your article on bald Cardinals. I had a bald female Cardinal at my feeder this morning - April 23rd. I live in Mason, MI.  Would the bird have a mite problem being so early in the season?  You do a wonderful job and I love your store.

Poor bird! There are a lot of bald bird reports in the fall during their annual molt. Some birds will drop all their head feathers all at once instead of the normal staggered molt. After a few weeks the feathers grow back and the birds are fine.

Other causes of feather loss in birds:

- Mites, lice, bacteria, and fungal infections - Normally, the birds would pick off mites by preening, but birds cannot preen their own heads effectively. And foot scratching can actually make things worse! Once the mites have destroyed their food source on the birds' heads, they must either move on to a new bird or take a chance and venture lower on another area of their host's body. Keep your feeders clean and full of fresh seed and hopefully your bird will recover quickly.
- Hormonal imbalances - Sometimes a malfunctioning thyroid gland, ovaries, or testicles can result in feather picking. Blood tests or biopsies are needed to confirm that diagnosis. 
- Dietary deficiencies - A lack of protein, fatty acids, certain vitamins or minerals can result in feather loss and/or feather picking. Even though the bird is eating well it might not have the ability to utilize the nutrients in the food. 
- Injury-An injury or illness can prevent birds from preening properly. 
- Psychological problems - Over preening turned to feather plucking might be due to the stress after a shock.

Related Articles:
A select few birds go bald every year http://goo.gl/O1oixe
Why should we care about birds? http://bit.ly/KnwOxf
Michigan DNRE asking drivers to watch out for bald eagles http://bit.ly/KnxQJu
Why is the Dove a Symbol of Peace? http://t.co/Br4EnlB
Stop baby birds from crashing into windows http://bit.ly/KUVpe5

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