Western Scrub Jay with Bill Deformity

by Bryce W. Robinson


My friend Mitch Tall sent me this image today of a Western Scrub Jay that he photographed in Salt Lake City, Utah. He wanted to know if I had any insight into what was wrong with this bald bird. I don’t have a lot of knowledge when it comes to bird maladies, however, I quickly noticed the elongated growth in the bill. Some birds have a disorder where their bills grow continuously throughout their lives. My friend Ron Dudley has documented several birds with related issues (See photos here). I’d be confident stating that stress related to the deformity is why the Scrub Jay is lacking feathers on its head. Still, I wonder if something such as mange is to blame, compounded by the health issues caused by the bill deformity. 


I’d love to hear some ideas from those who have more knowledge on this issue than I. In the meantime, I’ll be researching some possibilities in hopes of having an answer for Mitch. Thanks again for sharing these Mitch, and kudos on the great photography.