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: