First Appearance on 3-25-2022 and What Happened?

Today, I'll be showing you a very special female Northern Cardinal that first showed up to the bird feeders on 3/25/2022. Actually, she may have shown up before that date but it is the date that I first saw her. I was a bit shocked and sad when I saw the little Cardinal's head. I wondered what may have happened to her to cause her feathers to go missing on her head. It also appeared that her beak was slightly damaged and I wondered if possibly she was hit by a vehicle.

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When I looked closely at her I also wondered if Cardinals (or any bird) could get mange. Mange is a skin disease caused by mites and I know it can cause hair loss on animals so I decided to try to figure out why this beautiful bird came to be in such a state.

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It is possible, from what I've read, that the Cardinal could have a type of bird mite that prefers their head feathers and can leave them bald. Bird lice can also cause feather loss. Luckily, most parasites associated with birds prefer birds as hosts and not humans. They can, however, be a nuisance if they invade your house. We did have an instance where that happened years ago when birds built a nest in an air conditioner. Once they abandoned the nest the mites got in by means of the air conditioner. It was such a large amount of mites that we had to fumigate the room and do a lot of vacuuming and washing of bedding and clothing. Ever since then, I don't let any birds nest near the house or in plants that I may have hanging outside. I put skewers in the plants which definitely deters birds from trying to build nests in the plants.

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The feather loss could also just be due to molting which is normal for birds to shed old feathers and grow new ones. Molting is possible anytime but seen more during Summer and Fall. Cardinals and Blue Jays are especially known for losing all of their head feathers during a molt.

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Another possibility is that the bird may have suffered some kind of trauma.

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I think it is possible that she did suffer some kind of trauma due to her beak showing some damage. Maybe a trauma caused her to molt? From what I've read, all of the above possibilities should be temporary. However, head feathers help to protect the birds from sunburn, getting hurt by tree branches and the feathers help protect them from other outside elements.

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So far, she has been visiting almost regularly. Four days passed without me seeing her and I got alarmed that something may have happened to her or she died but she eventually showed up. She was most likely visiting during that time but I just didn't see her. I mean, I do take breaks from sitting at my window here ... lol. When I did see her return I took a quick photo through a window. Not a window that gets used but I didn't want to try to open the regular window and have her fly off.

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I did wonder if she had a mate as most Northern Cardinals mate for life. I've seen a male and female pair that frequent the bird feeders but this beautiful girl has been solo. That changed (I believe) on 4/24/2022 when I spotted her at the feeders. The following photos are all from the same date.

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She flew up into some tree branches and did a strange pose and I thought that she may be doing the pose for a male.

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I did see a male fly into the tree and, believe me, I tried to zoom out in time but it all happened so quickly and I only caught part of the mating.

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I'm so happy that she found a mate!! I also hope that whatever caused her to lose her head feathers that she recovers soon and new feathers grow in. Even without them though I still think she is a beautiful bird. These are my last couple of photos of her. I've seen her a couple of times since these photos but wasn't able to get photos. I hope to see her soon and get some though. 💖

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Thank you @melinda010100 for #featheredfriday!!
All photos and text by me @deerjay. All rights reserved.

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You captured beautiful photos of the female Cardinal. It is a mystery what happened to cause the loss of feathers on the bird’s head. As you mentioned, Dee. an accident sounds possible with the damage to the beak.

Spring is slow coming here. Hopefully some double digit temperatures soon. 🌞 ♥️

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Thank you so much Jo!! I hope she will be okay and the other birds too. There is a bird flu around that is affecting the birds again. So far it isn't in our state here but I'm sure it will be a matter of time. I've noticed not as many birds coming around lately but perhaps that is due to nesting. I haven't seen this female Cardinal in a couple of days but hopefully she is coming around and I'm just not seeing her. Our weather is still up and down with some cold nights. I don't mind so much since Summer will bring some hot temps and humidity. I hope all is well there on PEI?! Have a wonderful rest of the week Jo!! 💞

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You captured some terrific photos of the pretty female cardinal including her damaged beak and balding head.📷

Dang! In the first image it looks like part of the female's head is missing. Hopefully she just lost feathers due to molting and they will grown back. Please keep us updated, Dee! ♥️

I never thought about mites in a bird nest getting into your home through the air conditioning vents but will remember to knock down any empty nests from the AC unit in the future.😮

Hope you have a great week ahead! @deerjay

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(Edited)

Thanks so much Nina!! It looks like it is just feathers but I do hope she will be okay. 💕
Oh yes and it was a lot of them. I always put the skewers (pointy side up) in any hanging plants outside when I have them. If the birds try to nest in them and you take them down to water them then often times there will be bird mites in there. Ever since that experience of them getting in I don't let them nest too close to the house but I still love them. Wishing you a beautiful rest of the week! 💖

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