Sunset

With cooler weather and longer nights, our birds' bodies have decided that it's time to surrender their feathers and grow new ones. Molting.

Most chickens molt once a year, usually during the fall or winter. That means that they redirect their energies from making eggs to making feathers. The Ameracaunas were the first to start losing their feathers.

Luckily, I'd read the blog of the wonderful garden writer Amy Stewart from a couple of years ago, when her chicken Dolley started losing her feathers, so I knew what to expect.

Below, Ophelia with her new coat of downy feathers.

Charlotte too is starting to lose the feathers on her chest, making her look slight.

The chickens, when molting, are skittish. More shy than usual. They don't want to be touched, although they do eat at their regular voracious clip. (They need nutrition to replace all those feathers.) And they don't do the egg squat when you pet them.

Alana was our first chicken to start to lose her feathers. She's almost all re-grown now. Luckily, the feathers on her neck, which were plucked out by the other chickens over the summer have regrown too. (See a photo of Ophelia's unappealing bare neck here. But it's nothing compared to Amy Stewart's Abigail: See her alarming-looking neck here.)

by Elizabeth Jardina, Sunset researcher

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