Saturday, August 4, 2012

Bald-headed Blue Jay

Well this was another first for me!  I was very concerned when I first saw this bald Blue Jay, but was relieved to discover that the bird is not sick and dying from some strange bird illness.  This bird is most likely bald due to an abnormal molt of all its head feathers all at once.  It is possible for the Blue Jay to have lost its head feathers due to a mite or lice infestation, but most sites that I have visited believe that the bald heads seen on Blue Jays and Northern Cardinals at this time of year are due to their seasonal molt.

It is unusual for birds to molt all their head feathers at once, but staggered regrowth should occur over the next few weeks, bringing in new winter feathers for the cold months ahead and readying the birds for any migratory flying they may be doing.

This particular Blue Jay was found at my friend's cottage up near Gravenhurst, Ontario.  Other than its vulture-like appearance, this Blue Jay seemed healthy, as it repeatedly returned to eat up peanuts that were out for the chipmunks.  It was a very fast flyer, so I apologize for the poor photos. 

This Blue Jay seemed normal and healthy in all other aspects... just missing all its head feathers!

Click to enlarge the photos for a better view

The head feathers should return within a couple of weeks

For more information on the bald Blue Jay, and other bald birds, check out the following links:

Bird Studies Canada:
Project FeederWatch:
The Zen Birdfeeder:
HIlton Pond Center:


  1. WOWZA! I just got a photo of a molting blue jay that I was *pretty* impressed with...and then I did a Google image search and ended up here, lol. Beautiful, gorgeous, amazing shot of the bald jay with his peanut. Ugh. I'm going to go try harder.

    Also...I just read your "about me"...a friend of mine has a really helpful photography book out (How to Create Stunning Digital Photography by Tony Northrup) that has a whole chapter on photographing birds. The ebook is constantly updated with links and videos and it's my bible. And if you YouTube search his name, he has a ton of videos for free that are pretty helpful, too. Not that you seem to need any help, lol, but you should check it out. There's a ton of great stuff in there.

    I have to post as "anonymous" because I don't have any of those other options, but my name is Jess and I'm glad I stumbled upon you. Beautiful work : )

  2. Hey Jess!

    Thanks so much for the ebook info. I'll definitely check it out! I love checking out new sites to learn new tricks. I have only recently started shooting birds, so I'm sure I'll learn a lot.

    Thanks for checking out my site and for the wonderful comments. Made my day!