Many songbirds’ feathers look a bit ragged in late summer, with some birds having bare spots on their bodies or even balding heads. This loss of feathers is called molting, and it is completely normal.
After the breeding season, songbirds gradually lose worn-out feathers and grow new ones by fall. Wing feathers are lost only a few at a time, and new feathers grow in before more are dropped - that way the bird can still fly. All birds go through a late-summer molt, and some species will molt again in the spring to get brightly colored plumage in time for breeding season.
WILD Facts is a regular feature written by Linda May, a wildlife interpretive specialist with the Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division.