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View Diary: Dawn Chorus: Egrets, I've Had A Few (154 comments)

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  •  Cattle Egrets & bald birds (10+ / 0-)

    Lately we've been seeing flocks of Cattle Egrets here in South Central Texas, flying overhead in formation, or finding insects the cattle kick up in the fields. Cattle Egrets were originally found in Spain, Portugal and Africa, and was introduced to South America in the 1880's. According to my bird book, it is now found in the Southern U.S. and even Southern Canada. At night they roost in trees with herons and other egrets. I love seeing the flocks in the early morning, wheeling overhead, with the sunlight glinting on their wings.

    The other bird event around here has been the bald Northern Cardinal who has been hanging around our house for weeks. Apparently these bald birds have been seen by many others, and Cornell even has a web page onbald headed birds. Experts are not sure of the cause, which is thought to be either a faulty molt or feather mites. Our bald male Cardinal seems very healthy otherwise.

    Good thing we've still got politics in Texas -- finest form of free entertainment ever invented.- Molly Ivins

    by loblolly on Sun Jul 11, 2010 at 07:35:14 AM PDT

    •  Some of the birding sites (7+ / 0-)

      I follow and others on Twitter have noted these bald-headed birds, particularly cardinals. I've never seen one but it's certainly worth looking at a bit more closely. Thanks for this and the cattle egret info.

      "It's the Supreme Court, Stupid!"

      by Kestrel on Sun Jul 11, 2010 at 07:39:17 AM PDT

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      •  Cornell has links to articles about bald birds (5+ / 0-)

        One theory is that the birds have feather mites, but are unable to preen the feathers on their own heads. I saw one report of a bald bird " anting " which would support the theory that it's mites, since birds use the ant's formic acid as a natural insecticide.

        Our bald guy looks healthy, and lately has even been hanging out with a young female.

        I'll try to get photos for next week.

        Good thing we've still got politics in Texas -- finest form of free entertainment ever invented.- Molly Ivins

        by loblolly on Sun Jul 11, 2010 at 07:45:57 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I remember bald cardinals (8+ / 0-)

      from North Carolina, and I think I've seen a few around Texas too.  I didn't realize that no one had isolated a cause.

      Of course, I've been a bald "cardinal" for several years, but am otherwise healthy.  I started losing my hair at 22, and my wife takes care of the rest every few days with clippers.

      Wieso? Weshalb? Warum? Wer nicht fragt, bleibt dumm!

      by cardinal on Sun Jul 11, 2010 at 07:56:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Bald birds seem to occur just about everywhere (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Kestrel, martyc35

      in the summer, from what I gather from birder sites like Zick's, Bird Chick's and Bill of the Birds. All excellent birders with outstanding sites. Their observations suggest that the baldness is caused by feather mites. These are particularly abundant in the nesting season. Blue bird boxes around here are infested with mites from time to time and the box tenders have to clean the nests between uses very carefully to deter the mites.

      Cardinals are common here and we had several male cardinals go bald late last summer. This year by Spring, the baldness was gone and all the males were in perfect plumage. Looks awful, of course, but doesn't seem to be fatal, at least here in SWGA, that is. Whaddaya  

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