Return to the Bird Watching Forum | Post a Follow-Up

 o
white-headed cardinal

Posted by yayacwe (My Page) on
Sun, Mar 21, 10 at 19:21

i noticed a male cardinal today at my feeder. his head is white. i don't think he's albino or part albino because it's just his head. i'm in oklahoma. any ideas?

Image link: white-headed cardinal (5 k)


Follow-Up Postings:

 o
RE: white-headed cardinal

here's a better pic. sorry about the first one.
Photobucket


 o
RE: white-headed cardinal

Its difficult to tell from the picture but I suspect the head feathers are missing.

Quoting from my book, "Birds of Ohio" by McCormac & Kennedy-
Under the heading of Northern Cardinals:

Quote;"Birds with missing head feathers are routinely seen. This condition is sometimes attributed to feather mites, but in mist cases the cause is unknown. The feathers eventually regrow".

I have upwards of 35 male and about 25 female cardinals that have been frequenting my feeders and I have noted 5 birds with missing topknots and one with missing head feathers that appear very similar to the one in your picture.

I discussed it with our local ornithologist and she says the feathers will probably reappear after the spring molt.


 o
RE: white-headed cardinal

thank you! maybe this picture will help more.
Photobucket


 o
RE: white-headed cardinal

Yep, His head sure does look bald!! Bless his heart. Hope they grow in soon so that he is more attractive to a potential mate!


 o
RE: white-headed cardinal

Ooooooooooooooh no...i don't believe you said that! You mean bald men can't be attractive to da ladies?????......LOL


 o
RE: white-headed cardinal

actually, i think he already has a mate! i saw him with a female ducking into a tree where there is apparently a nest.


 o
RE: white-headed cardinal

In my research I turned up some other very interesting facts about Northern Cardinals.

1. The mate for life, although they may take up a new mate if one of them dies.

2. Confirmed by a tag and release program the oldest known Cardinal was 16 years old.

3.In a survey conducted between 1993 & 1995 in Ohio, of 115 nests that were surveyed over 50% were parasitized by Brown Headed Cowbirds.

4. Originally Brown Headed Cowbirds were nomadic birds that moved with the Buffalo herds. They generally were not in one location long enough to hatch chicks and raise a brood so they lay their eggs in the nest of other birds who hatch the eggs and tend the chicks.


 o
RE: white-headed cardinal

Oh gosh no, I didn't mean that bald isn't beautiful! In the Cardinal world though, you will have to admit that it isn't the best look! He sort of looks like a Vulture!! I actually love Vultures.
In all of my years watching and feeding the birds, I don't recall reading or hearing that the Cardinals mate for life. Of course, I am getting older! I did some research too, and I found one website which suggests that although this CAN occur with Cardinals, it isn't always the case. The site actually spoke of bird divorce (LOL) Check it out:
http://www.gardening-for-wildlife.com/northern-cardinals.html
Interestng info. Thanks for sharing. :o)


 o
RE: white-headed cardinal

i wonder what is grounds for a divorce in the bird world?

Perhaps the males complain that they are too "hen Pecked".


 o
RE: white-headed cardinal

here's another picture of 'sparky.' i still don't understand why his head is white and not black like all the other bald cardinals pictures i've seen. can someone please explain this to me? also, i've read that this balding usually occurs in the summer or fall, not in the spring. i'm so in love with this little guy.

Photobucket


 o
RE: white-headed cardinal

Ok, I am doing some reseach on the issue. I did find a neat web page which shows us some pics of other similarly affected Cardinals and discusses causes of baldness. Check it out here:
http://www.hiltonpond.org/ThisWeek030701.html

and this: http://www.acsu.buffalo.edu/~insrisg/nature/nw98/baldbirds.html

and this: http://www.birdchick.com/wp/2007/08/bald-cardinals-and-other-bald-birds/
"The thing that I find interesting is that the cardinal that I shot had white skin not dark skin."

I wasn't able to find anything which specifically stated the reason why the skin would be white instead of dark, but this is obviously something which isn't so uncommon. I'll keep looking when I get time, and if I find anything else re the white skin, I will come back and post it for you. :o)


 o
RE: white-headed cardinal

thank you, bandjzmon. i've seen the same sites and i'm still perplexed. i know the bald head isn't uncommon, but the white, bald head seems to be. i'll keep taking pictures because he's really unique. i appreciate your help!


 o
RE: white-headed cardinal

HE HAS A WIFE!! apparently, his appearance doesn't bother her!

Photobucket


 o
RE: white-headed cardinal

YAY!!!!! Maybe she knows him from way back and has already established a bond? Good for him!!


 o
RE: white-headed cardinal

The thought just came to me, perhaps there is another explanation that we have not considered.

Perhaps he is just a young bird trying to set his mark in the world and that is his "Hippie", "Punk" or "Grundge" look or whatever is in vogue with teens at the moment...LOL.


 o
RE: white-headed cardinal

'sparky' has been gone for 24 hours. i think this bird chased him away. is that possible? i saw them chasing each other around my backyard all day yesterday, and now i'm afraid he's gone. any thoughts?

Photobucket


 o
RE: white-headed cardinal

A hippe, punk, grunge Cardinal? LOLOLOLOL!!! Not in vogue with my teens; not at this moment anyway!! Mine are more into the California beach boy look...you know Hollister..American Eagle...Aeropostale stores. They think that Sperry and Wallabee shoes are something new and fabulous!
Poor Sparky. I am seeing that in my yard too. The male Cardinals are chasing each other all over the place. Trying to establish nesting territory I assume. I guess time tell about whether or not Sparky has what it takes to successfully claim his bit of the turf.


 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!


Return to the Bird Watching Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Please review our Rules of Play before posting.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.


Learn more about in-text links on this page here