cardinal ????

by Arlene
(South Central PA)

We have cardinals in our yard all the time at the feeders. This one looked like a cardinal but had a dark brown head, and muted red and gray feathers like the female. Missing the tuft of feathers on the back of the head but bright beak like a cardinal and feeding, acting like a cardinal.

Comments for cardinal ????

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May 26, 2016
Dark headed cardinal NEW
by: Anonymous

It's quite possible that your Cardinal has a bad case of head lice! They can preen them out of the rest of their body but can't reach their head, and the infestation gets so bad that all of the feathers fall out, and you are seeing the color of the skin. The lice can't live without the feathers, so they die out, and the feathers and head tuft regrow.

Feb 22, 2013
Immature Cardinal? NEW
by: GaryE


Honestly it does sound like a Cardinal . . . specifically an immature Cardinal. I am pretty sure they do not get the crest until they are nearly full grown. Or at the very least the crest is not prominent until they reach maturity.

It has been a while since I have seen an immature Cardinal (I think not last Spring but the previous Spring) but that is what I *think* I remember. We get lots and lots of Cardinals at our feeder(s) but the only place I have ever seen the immature birds is either at the bird bath or in trees/bushes/etc waiting for mom or dad to bring them food from the feeder . . . and we only see them rarely so like I said I am less than certain but without a picture that is my best guess.

Aug 30, 2012
Unknown bird?
by: MKA

Like Arlene, I have a bird in my back yard in Illinois which is identical to the one she describes. I also have male and female cardinals at my feeder. I know what a female cardinal looks like and this particular bird does NOT resemble a female cardinal. There is NO tuft on the top top/back of the head. The WHOLE head is a dark color while the rest of the body is a rusty/brown color. I have been watching the birds for a couple of years now and this is the first time I have seen this bird at my feeders. Anyone have any comments????

Aug 30, 2012
by: Anonymous

it is a female northern cardinal. only the male is bright red.

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