09 September 2010

A shaggy cardinal at the feeder

This funny looking female cardinal (cardinalis cardinalis) was at the feeder about a week ago. Why did its feathers look so unkempt? It may have been a fledgeling who hadn't yet learned the fine art of preening.

The previous bird at the feeder was some sort of finch.


Christopher Taylor said...

When my mother used to have breeding budgerigars, there was one female whose fledgelings consistently became free-fying before their head feathers had properly grown in. Even when the feathers grew, they never attained a full coverage; the young budgies always looked a little thin on top. This happened even with chicks hatched from eggs laid by other females and given to this one. The only explanation we could think of was that perhaps she was an overenthusiastic preener to the point of damaging her chicks' follicles.

Julie said...

Some cardinals just have pretty extreme molts, and they often lose all the feathers on their heads. People ask me about this so often I wrote a post explaining that it's really quite common and nothing is wrong with the bird.

forestwalk/laura k said...

yes! she certainly does look a little shaggy around the edges!!!

nice shot!! :]

John said...

Nice shot of the molting cardinal.