A few days ago, motion drew my eye to the window. A bird was hopping around in the butterfly bush. Nothing unusual about that, but this particular bird made me do a double-take:
What was going on? Had I been transported to the Island of Dr. Moreau? Was someone in the neighborhood doing weird experiments on the local bird life? Please tell me that is not really the head of a black finch transplanted onto the body of a cardinal . . . .
A Google search soon informed me I wasn’t the only one who had seen such a sight and wondered about it. The bird in question is definitely a cardinal, but it’s a bald cardinal, with no feathers on its head.
Opinions on what causes cardinals to lose all their head feathers are mixed, but most seem to involve mites and seasonal molting. It is agreed the condition generally takes place after the breeding season, that it isn’t permanent, and that the feathers grow back.
I have to say though, that a cardinal with a head as bald as a vulture’s is a rather disturbing sight.