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Bald cardinal visits Algoma home


Katie Miller and her family have a lot of birds show up in their backyard, but none is as unique as the one they lovingly named “Butchy boy.”
“He’s bald,” Miller said of the cardinal that frequents their feeder.
Miller said that the feather-challenged bird has been coming to their home in the spring and summer for the last two years. “I always know it’s him because of a little peep he makes,” said Miller.
She said he’s no different than other birds except for being bald. “He eats fine and doesn’t fight with the other birds,” she explained. He also appears to have a female friend.
Miller noted that she also saw a blue-jay that was bald, but it wasn’t as bad.
That would bear out what we found: the main birds that are reported to bird experts as being bald each year are cardinals and blue jays. But even the experts don’t agree on why it happens, because it hasn’t been studied in depth.
“My thought is parasites,” said local expert Ranger Steve Mueller.
Birds can get feather mites or bird lice that eat the feathers. Usually a bird can get rid of them by preening, but they can’t reach their head.
Another idea suggested by experts is an aberration in molting, when they lose all their feathers on their head at once, instead of gradually.
And another idea is a traumatic injury.
Regardless of the cause, the feathers supposedly grow back in four to six weeks.
Whether that’s true in Butchy Boy’s case, might remain a mystery.

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