Frequently Asked Questions

Nongame Wildlife

Why are male cardinals bald at the end of the summer?

Many folks call in around August and early September and ask why their cardinals have lost the feathers on their head and appear bald. The feather loss occurs during molting, where new feathers push out the old feathers as they grow in. In a typical molt, the incoming feathers are spread evenly throughout the body, making feather loss a gradual process. On most birds you very rarely see a bald spot. With cardinals, however, large numbers of crown feathers often fall out together, giving the bird a bald and rather shabby appearance. Have no fear, it is not a skin disease, the male's beautiful crest feathers will grow back in due time and he will be a snappy as ever.


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