I panicked when I saw Charlotte's feathers scattered around the yard. Had the raccoon, that had savagely attacked my neighbor's cat, attacked one of my "girls"? Fortunately, Charlotte soon scurried out from under the tangerine tree where she likes to dust bathe, and it all started to make sense—it's molting time.
A molting chicken is not a pretty sight. My hens were too young to molt when fall arrived last year, so this is their maiden voyage. While May seems to be replacing her feathers a few at a time, poor bedraggled Charlotte has been looking like something the cat dragged in. But I noticed yesterday that her pin feathers are coming in, so she's looking more normal. Actually, she looks a bit like a hedgehog—something I've always wanted! (If you'd like to see the girls in all of their pre-molt splendor, click here to go their page.)
Feathers are amazing structures; I could use some practice drawing them. Also, the sheen of graphite complicates the scanning process, so I had to play around with the scanner settings. (I've really got to take a day and get the hang of using a camera and my copy stand...especially for graphite drawings.)
The scan above is in color, and the one below is in greyscale...which do you prefer?