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Monday, July 27, 2020

Monday's Memo: Birds (including cardinals) can molt their whole head off!


So honored that James Miranda (from Illinois) reached out to me (via email) with a copy of the photo (that is atop this entry asking for ID help. On first glance I thought it was a male Northern cardinal in extreme molt mode but not being one to answer a teenager (or anyone for that matter) without being sure, I reached out to bird rehabber extraordinaire Amanda Remsberg​ via Facebook Messenger:

ME: Amanda, I received this email saying, "Hi Aunt Patricia! I saw this bird in our backyard and I am wondering if you can tell me what type it is? It is a red bird but it has a black head."   Do you have any ideas, Amanda? Could it be a cardinal molting?

AMANDA: Yep!  Some cardinals and blue jays do this in late summer, they molt their whole heads off.  It’s postulated that it could happen because of feather mites.

ME: Thank you for clarifying? How are you doing re COVID  [coronavirus] + the hurricane?

Amanda: We are fine!  It passed a couple hundred miles south of us, unfortunately in southern Texas they are suffering worse with Covid because of less resources.  They are rushing Red Cross, etc down there to help.  It’s a mess. But we are fine.

ME: I heard about the devastation in southern Texas. SO THANKFUL to hear you are fine.

And there you have it dear reader my quest to answer James’s question and the confirmation I was correct in determining the creature to be a male Northern cardinal, a bird type featured in all three volumes of my book series, Words In Our Beak.


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