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, July 20, 2019

Annual shake-up at the bird feeders

Now that it is Summer you should expect to see some bald birds. Just as people make seasonal wardrobe changes, many birds are beginning a transformation of their own, losing and replacing their feathers in a process known as molting. This complicated process requires a lot of energy and may take up to eight weeks to complete.

Most birds’ feather loss and replacement is gradual and you may notice they look a little ruffled. But then there are also a select few that go bald.

A bald bird at the feeder is a somewhat common sight to see from the end of June to the end of August in mid-Michigan. After the breeding season, most birds go through pre-basic molt that results in a covering of feathers, which will last until the next breeding season.

However, some Cardinals, BlueJays, and Grackles go through an abnormal molt or replacement of feathers. There are no scientific studies on why some of these birds go bald and some don’t or why it’s just the head. Whatever the reason, we know feathers are made of more than 90% protein, primarily keratins, so every molting bird needs extra proteins to grow strong feathers for proper flight and effective insulation.

More Colorful Birds -The Northern Cardinal, one of the most colorful birds, needs to eat the right foods now to acquire bright plumage coloration next year. At the feeders they are looking for nuts, sunflower, or safflower seeds. Their new feathers don’t come in bright. The tips of the new body feathers are brown/gray and make the cardinals appear a bit dull or more camouflaged in the winter. These dull colored tips wear off in time to leave them more colorful for breeding season in the spring.

Territories are forming - Birds are also staking out their winter territories right now. Young birds like chickadees, woodpeckers, and titmice find new territories to hook up with other young birds at the end of summer and join local adults to form winter flocks. If you are feeding a good bird food you will attract lots of birds that will remain in the same general area for the rest of their adult lives.

Related Articles:
What seed is best for attracting the colorful birds? http://goo.gl/SAA35
Wild Birds Unlimited seed blends http://goo.gl/lF0rr
What seeds do wild birds eat? http://goo.gl/MjUCA
When should I feed the birds? http://goo.gl/IvocS

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