Thursday, October 18, 2012

mmm, not so pretty

There are clouds of fluffy feathers billowing around the backyard.  Oh yes, it's Molting Time!!  Winnie and Stella are shedding their old feathers, and boy do they look terrible.  Their bodies cannot produce eggs AND new feathers at the same time, so both girls have stopped laying and are now putting all of their energy into feather production.  It's a stressful but necessary process for birds.  Winnie and Stella are moving more slowly and are spending lots of time resting these days.  We make sure they get extra freeze dried mealworms to boost their protein intake.  ooo yummy!

I found this tidbit from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology:
A feather is a "dead" structure, somewhat analogous to hair or nails in humans. The hardness of a feather is caused by the formation of the protein keratin. Since feathers cannot heal themselves when damaged, they have to be completely replaced. The replacement of all or part of the feathers is called a molt. Molts produce feathers that match the age and sex of the bird, and sometimes the season.
Molting occurs in response to a mixture of hormonal changes brought about by seasonal changes.

In case you don't believe me, here are some "before and after" photos to illustrate just how unattractive the ladies are right now.

Winnie NOW


Stella NOW

Thursday, October 11, 2012

free birds!!

The girls now have the full run of the backyard, and they couldn't be happier about it!  They seem delighted to nibble on grass and weeds, reorganize the mulch in the flower beds, and look for slugs and other tasty bugs among the hostas.  At times, they all hang out under the deck to groom and take naps, and the older girls venture onto the deck to peek in the window and see what we're doing.  I'm sure they're hoping for a raisin or two. 

The only downside is that we now have a poo management issue - it's everywhere.  Although I don't enjoy "running the poo gauntlet"  when walking from the house to the garage, I do love seeing the girls free ranging.