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Cardinal-like bird (red body) with gray head, orange beak, and "eye spot" on its head.

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I just saw a bird at my feeder in central VA that looked like a male cardinal, except it head was gray, beak was orange, and it had an eye spot (like many fish do) on its face near the neck.  Looking in my binoculars, I could swear that I also saw and antenna like protrusion on its head--not joking.

Any ideas what this bird is?


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Welcome to Whatbird!

It sounds like you have a male Cardinal that has shed its head feathers and is growing new ones.  This is called 'molting', a normal process of replacing worn feathers.  The 'antenna' may be new incoming feathers, or the last of the old ones that haven't yet fallen off.

If you can get photos, even cell phone photos, we can confirm my theory.

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Welcome to Whatbird, @kman1960.

If your bird had the same colored beak as a Northern Cardinal, I think it's safe to say that it was a Cardinal. I don't believe any other bird has that orange/red type of beak to confuse it with. They can look totally different when they molt all their head feathers at once, but their beak is unique.

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