[Tweeters] Weird in Texas

Diane W diane_weinstein at msn.com
Sat May 18 11:18:10 PDT 2013

I have a bald Red-winged Blackbird coming to the feeder. The whole top of the head has no feathers. Other than that he looks healthy. I have seen the same bird or one with the same problem in previous years and have often wondered about the cause.

Diane Weinstein

From: jeff gibson
Sent: Friday, May 17, 2013 9:56 PM
To: tweeters
Subject: [Tweeters] Weird in Texas

Looking through my field notes from a recent trip to Texas, I came across something I'd already forgotten about that was truly weird.

I was up early one morning snooping around a birdy tree-lined field, when I spotted a Little Gray Bird actively working through the shrubbery, and low-hanging Pecan branches. The bird was remarkable because it didn't have a head! Of course, being active and all, it really did have a head, but the head was completely featherless from the neck up - the head was so tiny without feathers it was amazing, hardly even noticeable at first glance. The head looked about the size of a pea!

If you've ever seen an owl skull , for example, you know just how much feathers disguise a birds anatomy. An owls beak is considerably larger than the tip that we typically see sticking out of all their fluff.

Without head feathers, the head on this little bird looked like an eyeball with a beak attached and not much more. It had to be the most bizarre bird sight I've ever had.

I never did figure out what the bird was- probably a Carolina Chickadee, which were pretty common in the area - it was mostly gray and nondescript from the neck down. I was so shocked by it's headless appearance I missed other critical details. It was quiet, but otherwise seemed pretty perky as it hunted through the trees and bushes.

I presume the bird had some sort of disease or bug that caused this. The only thing I've ever seen that came close to this was a Crow on the Everett waterfront last year which had a completely bare neck, but otherwise seemed OK. That was weird too, but the little gray Texan won the Strange Stuff Award in my book.

Jeff Gibson
Deep in the Heart of
Everett Wa

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