Old 10-10-2014, 02:29 PM
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 11,261
Cardinal feathers

I've always lived where there are plenty of songbirds, including cardinals. I often see basic gray feathers on the ground, and sometimes partially blue feathers from blue jays and gray and white feathers from mockingbirds. I've even seen feathers from hawks.

What I've never seen, however, is a red feather from a cardinal. There are more of those around here than blue jays, and yet I've never seen a red feather lying on or next to the sidewalk from being molted. Are cardinals more careful when they molt to stay hidden? Or is it just a coincidence?
Old 10-10-2014, 02:38 PM
SD Curator of Critters
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Panama
Posts: 37,507
Probably coincidence. I'm not aware of any particular reason you would be less likely to find cardinal feathers.
Old 10-10-2014, 02:41 PM
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: KS, US
Posts: 5,464
For one point of anecdote, I have found cardinal feathers.

Last edited by Sicks Ate; 10-10-2014 at 02:42 PM.
Old 10-10-2014, 04:13 PM
ftg ftg is offline
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Not the PNW :-(
Posts: 15,812
I have found a couple cardinal feathers, but a lot more blue jay feathers despite seemingly less common.

Super-WAG: Blue jays are more feisty than cardinals. They get into more fights with each other and other birds. (Although I do see cardinals harassing other birds to keep them away from their nests. But just swooping at them.) Perhaps you are seeing more feathers from birds that get into actual fights (especially birds of prey). And I presume that such species regrow feathers faster. Don't want any bald blue jays.

Also keep in mind that only adult male cardinals are full red.
Old 10-10-2014, 04:44 PM
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Sunny California
Posts: 14,589
I would WAG that you don't find cardinal feathers laying on the ground for the same reason you don't often find $20 bills laying on the ground: Because, should one such ever appear, there is a very high probability that somebody else has already found it first and taken it.

To be sure, whenever a ( $20 bill | cardinal feather ) appears on the ground, there is near-certainty that somebody will find it first. But there's only a very low probability that it's going to be you.

Sicks Ate just so happens to be one of the lucky ones.

ETA: ftg too. Just not you, OP.

Last edited by Senegoid; 10-10-2014 at 04:45 PM.
Old 10-11-2014, 09:53 AM
ftg ftg is offline
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Not the PNW :-(
Posts: 15,812
I was only referring to my own property. Very uncommon for someone else to wander about it. So I don't think another person is picking up feathers.

Also, I don't see any reason for people in general to strongly desire cardinal feathers while ignoring blue jay feathers. (As well as risking being arrested.)

Fun fact: Blue jay feathers aren't actually blue.

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