Bald Cardinals and
During summer many people see what appear
to be bald cardinals visiting your yard or feeders. Donít be alarmed. This
is a relatively common phenomenon in Cardinals, as well as other species,
particularly Blue Jays. The birds normally are not sick, and the feathers
will soon grow back.
There are several explanations for this
loss of feathers. First, this total feather loss may be a normal occurrence
for individual birds during their post-breeding molt. The loss may also be
caused by mites - in this case skin mites.
The mites are perfectly natural (and not
caused by diet) and relatively harmless, unless the bird is in an
otherwise-weakened state. The mites exist on the birds in the only place the
birds cannot preen themselves-on the head. They should have a
new set of head feathers in a month or so.
Some authorities also believe the
simultaneous loss of head feathers may be due to factors other than or in
addition to mites, such as nutritional deficiencies, high temperature, or
other environmental stress.
For more information
and photos, here are two good web pages that discuss this in much more