Welcome to the Kentucky Native Plant and Wildlife Blog.

Welcome to the Kentucky Native Plant and Wildlife Blog.
The purpose of this blog is to provide information on using native plants in the landscape, issues related to invasive exotic plants, urban wildlife management, and wildlife damage management. It is my intention that this information will assist you in deciphering the multitude of information circulating around the web and condense in some meaningful method as it relates to Kentucky. In addition, I hope to highlight a native plant that can be used in the landscape.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Unusual Cardinal at the Feeder

Photo by Ramona Marie Lauder

Photo by Eddie Eller

This seems to be the year of the bald cardinal.  I can't remember receiving this many calls about the strange cardinals folks have been seeing lately.  What are these birds and why is this happening?  These are just regular cardinals but at this time of the year the birds go through a process called molting.  Molting is nothing more than feather replacement.  In this case, the best explanation is that all the feathers molted at one time, giving the appearance of a "bald" bird.  Most of these birds are most likely young of the year, or juvenile birds, that are undergoing their first molt.  Normally feathers are molted a few a time and it is unknown why this phenomena seen in the photos occurs.  There is not a large amount of research on the topic but it also appears that feather mites or lice may cause the condition as the head is one area that the birds can not reach to "preen" to remove the tiny bugs.  The final explanation may be some unexplored nutritional or environmental contaminant problem.  For whatever reason, there is no need to worry because by the next molt the feathers will return and your beautiful red cardinals will not be bald any longer, unlike the author of this blog, who lost his hair at age 18 and it has never returned!!  Now that's a long molt!

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