Tuesday, August 30

Bald is Beautiful!

Bald Blue Jay- It Must be August
Caledonia Wisconsin

Blue Jays go through one complete molt a year in late summer.  This molt usually proceeds in an orderly fashion so that you barely notice that it's going on.  But Blue Jays (as well as Northern Cardinals) often experience a complete molt of their head and maybe even their neck feathers.  Nothing is wrong with the bird and the feathers will grow back.

But for a period of time until they feathers return, they do look rather odd.  Get out a pair of binoculars and look for bald jays in your yard.  Let me know if you see one.
-wildbirdunlimted - The Zen Birdfeeder

Each year FeederWatchers report several cases of bald-headed birds, primarily Blue Jays and Northern Cardinals. In most of the cases observed in late summer and fall, the affected birds have dropped their head feathers simultaneously during molting, resulting in individuals being nearly bald for about a week. Many of these strange-looking birds may be juveniles undergoing their first prebasic molt, which produces the first winter adult plumage. For Blue Jays, this molt pattern is considered normal, and this molt pattern happens with enough frequency in Northern Cardinal populations to be considered within the normal range.
If you notice a bald-headed bird of another species, it could be the result of an abnormal molt. Staggered feather replacement is the normal pattern for most birds.

Baldness also may result from feather mites, lice, or an environmental or nutritional factor. Often in these cases, there is evidence of growths or a scabby coating on the skin. For example, Northern Cardinals have black skin, and a different color skin on the head of a bald-headed cardinal would indicate an ailment.
-feederwatch.org

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