Identifying – Bird at feeder

Q: I need help identifying a bird I have at my feeder. It looks like a cardinal except for the head, which appears to be devoid of feathers! It has normal red body feathers and a head with no crest.

A: You have a male cardinal whose feathers have dropped off. This is the subject of lengthy discussion among birders but the consensus is that it can be caused by mites, heat or nutritional difficulties. The folks at Hilton Pond Center in South Carolina have observed several birds with this condition (which they call “lizard-head”), including one who was bald one year but fully recovered the next. Details at HILTON POND

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