Thursday, February 28, 2013

Where oh where are your tail feathers


You may remember this lovely couple from last month.
Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal visit my feeders frequently
and I have a gazillion photos of them.



But when Mrs. Cardinal showed up yesterday with her tail feathers missing ...
well, I was confused!


 I have never seen a bird with missing tail feathers!
At first I thought it might be a fledgling but certainly not this time of year.
So I had to google 'cardinal missing tail feathers' and sure enough
google had the answer!

 Apparently they call it fright molt which is a survival mechanism that helps birds 
escape a predator.  Somehow all the tail feathers are ejected from the feather follicles at one time.
The sacrifice of tail feathers is only temporary and new ones will grow in after four to six weeks.

 I'm glad she survived whatever was after her.  
But my, oh my, her patootie looks a bit naked.

I feel I should close my eyes!
~smile~


39 comments:

Lisa Gordon said...

Oh poor girl.
They do grow back pretty quickly though. Just in time for her to pull some out for her nest. Yes, they do that too. :-)

Brian Miller said...

omg...never knew that...looks a bit weird without a tail...i guess its kinda like a lizard...interesting...

Nita Davis said...

So glad she was able to get away with only the loss of her feathers. She does look a bit off balance though.

Country Girl said...

Oh my gosh. I didn't know that. I would have googled it too. And yes, wanted to avert my eyes, as well ~

TexWisGirl said...

poor thing. hope she's not embarrassed!

grammie g said...

Hi Reena...I had a male Cardinal that was coming to my feeders with no tail,and I thought the same as you, but never checked it out!! It was in late fall early winter...then it disappeared or maybe he didn't could be the one that started arriving with a tail ; ) We don't have only a few here in winter!! Hmm so there is a reason for that!!
Grace

Kathy said...

Oh, bless her heart!

Sylvia K said...

I never knew that!! One of the many things I don't know, but I'm so glad to know it now!! Fascinating! Yes, poor gal, I hope she isn't embarrassed, too! I am glad she survived!!!

eileeninmd said...

Well, I learned something new today. I have never seen one missing their tail feathers. I am happy she survived. Great shots!

Sinbad and I on the Loose said...

It must make for awkward flying what with no rudder.

Denise at Autumn Sky said...

Poor Mrs. Cardinal. I hope they have babies and bring them to your feeder.

ladyfi said...

Oh dear - poor bird! And thanks for this post - it made me smile.

Betty Manousos said...

oh, poor little thing..

gorgeous shots!

Kathryn said...

You had me cracking up with the words patootie! I've never seen a bird without tail feathers before (bless her heart), glad she survived though.

Have a great weekend.

Kathryn said...

You had me cracking up with the words patootie! I've never seen a bird without tail feathers before (bless her heart), glad she survived though.

Have a great weekend.

Daryl said...

i wonder if that lurking hawk was what scared her so badly she shook her tush til it was bare!

Bob Bushell said...

Sad isn't it, oh. Good photography as well, cheers Reena.

islandwonder said...

Poor thing! It must have been a terrible fright to drop her feathers like that.

Dianne said...

and now I have learned they grow back!!
that makes me happy
there is so little that I know about birds

love her little head peeking into the feeder

Wayne (Woody), whatever said...

It makes perfect sense. I always thought the tail feathers were used for balance.

Snapper II said...

Beautiful photos. I love Cardinals.
We're starting to see more at our feeders and around the yard. This winter has been really dead around here.

Madi and Mom said...

Hey hey hey!
It is so good to hear from you Reena!
I love Cardinals too! They are our state bird.
Do not you just love Google.
As a child, i was told to look something up ...I would have loved having google at my fingertips.
Nose tap to Kramer
Hugs
Madi and mom

Linda R said...

Ahhh.. Poor gal. She still looks beautiful even without her tail feathers..

Hugs~

Florida Farm Girl said...

I guessed it was a predator, but I didn't know about the fright molt thing. Glad she's okay.

S. Etole said...

Glad she escaped whatever frightened her. Thanks for sharing what "fright molt" is.

Beth @ E. lizard Breath Speaks said...

poor thing - how does she fly? - not well i'm guessing. so sad. i sure hope they will grow back soon. i hope you will have a chance to keep tabs on her. wow... interesting, i learned something today. thanks, for the info.!! i don't think i have seen that before?!? the hubby said something about it happening to lizards - me (he means, ha. ha!!)

enjoy your weekend.

bailey-road.com said...

She's a survivor!

Hilary said...

Oh what a cool observation. I'm glad she survived her ordeal and that the feathers will grow back. It sure does make her look squat.

CherryPie said...

Fascinating I have never heard of such a thing before!

PerthDailyPhoto said...

What an amazing occurrence. Poor wee thing, this gives a whole new meaning to 'shake your tail feathers' haha! The things that happen out there in nature never cease to amaze me. I love learning something new ever day, thanks Reena.

rainfield61 said...

Oh, they behave like a lizard.

Mark said...

Great shots, the colors on them are amazing, and plus, a tail feather lesson. I would have never known that, very interesting.

Catherine said...

Oh no ~ poor girl! But at least she will get new ones! Well...that's kind of like getting a new wardrobe right? :)

Glad she is safe!

Lovely photos!

xo Catherine

Ross said...

Such great shots! I really love the colors. So vibrant!

Randall Cogburn said...

That's interesting, never heard that could happen. I wonder how long it took her to adjust to fly after not having tail feathers. Nice shots Reena!

~Randall

simply bev said...

Fright Molt - I had no idea! Thanks for the lesson and the beautiful photos too!

Harshi said...

That's something really interesting and new for me. The bird is still a beauty despite its missing feathers. :)

Pat Tillett said...

I'm glad she escaped! Some birds also pluck their own feathers when stressed...

GailO said...

Now that is one interesting bit of bird behavior! Poor thing!