Apr 13, 2010

The Majestic Bald Blue Jay

You're looking at a bald blue jay. Why bald? There might be a few answers: a faulty molting process (post breeding), disease, feather picking, or a feeder that has rubbed the feathers away. Bald songbirds aren't actually that rare. You'll occasionally find bald cardinals and blackbirds too.

Photo courtesy: Kathy Vespaziani

So, why the baldness? Most likely it's due to feather mites. But why only on the head? Feather mites located elsewhere on the body get cleared by the bird's preening: he can actually reach those mites and eradicate them. Not so with feather mites on the head.

But fear not for our corvid friend. It won't affect his next moult, and his feathers will come back. The mites, having lost their food supply, have two choices: 1) to leave the bird altogether in search of more feathers, or 2) to migrate to other parts of the bird, but then the bird can rid himself of them, and probably with a vengeance.

Thanks for the photo, Kathy. Check out some more of her bird photos at Avianatic Nature Photography.


VM Sehy Photography said...

That's just a sad sight. Glad to hear his feathers should come back.

Anonymous said...

So I guess it would make a bald eagle redundant?

Unknown said...

saw one like this for the first time. I saw the back and was excited to see a blue jay and it turned around and i was like, "what the heck?!?!" figured it was a woodpecker.... then i found your post. poor bird.