And the Answer is …

Photo by Chris Bosak

Photo by Chris Bosak

Here’s the answer to the latest Birding Quiz. Many of you nailed it, despite the somewhat tricky nature of the photo.

Click below for the answer.

Photo by Chris Bosak A Northern Cardinal with a bald head perches on a feeder in Danbury, CT, summer 2015.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Northern Cardinal with a bald head perches on a feeder in Danbury, CT, summer 2015.

Yes, it is a male Northern Cardinal. No, it is not the most attractive Northern Cardinal in the world — at least not in this photo.

Northern Cardinals, especially males, are often seen with bald heads. Cardinals are largely thought of as one of the most visually striking birds in New England. Not so much when they are sporting their bald heads.

So what is going on here? Why is this cardinal bald? The experts disagree as to the exact cause, but most think it is one of two reasons: mites or molting. Are mites investing the head (where it is difficult to preen) and causing the feathers to come out? Or is the bird simply going through its molt and the appearance of baldness is only temporary?

As I mentioned, experts come at it from both sides and, typical of experts, they are convinced their reason is correct. My personal thoughts are that they are molting and the feathers will return in short order.

Thanks for playing along. Until the next Birding Quiz …

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