Fall, the time of molt

“In September the birds were quiet. They were molting in the valley, the mockingbird in the spruce, the sparrow in the mock orange, the doves in the cedar by the creek. Everywhere I walked the ground was littered with shed feathers, long, colorful primaries, and shaftless white down. I garnered this weightless crop in pockets all month long and inserted the feathers one by one into the frame of a wall mirror.” Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek.


I too collect feathers, as no doubt many of you do. Forty years living with chickens and ducks, I notice not only the wild bird feathers of fall in the woods, but feathers piled and scattered throughout the coops. This shedding of feathers starts in the heat of late summer. By the October rains, Thanksgiving at the latest, fresh feathers are in place for winter.

Missing their primary wing feathers and the under feathers more explosed, our muscovies are reserved and caution, not able to fly as well. Here they are listening to a predator bird, full alert.

Missing their primary wing feathers, exposing the feathers underneath, and less able to fly, our muscovies are reserved and cautious.  Here they are listening to a predator bird overhead, full alert.

Our two Muscovies have been less active lately, choosing to stay in their coop even when the door is open. Growing new feathers requires energy. I’ve noticed in years past older or unhealthy birds often don’t grow back all their feathers.

In my recent cleaning out of ‘stuff’, I sorted my feather collection, decided to keep less, and tossed the rest. I’ve been molting too, my feathers and more.

The purpose of molting is to make way for new growth. When new feathers grow back on birds they are fresh, clean, perfect, without damage. How wonderful to have a part of your body rejuvenate itself in this manner! Our bodies rejuvenate. Some cells last only a few days, others years, (though apparently our cerebell cortex cells, cells in the inner eye, and the heart cells last a life time.) It would be nice if our rejuvenation, a more stuble process, made us look as fresh as a bird with new feathers!


Fall, the time of the molt, is a time to reserve one’s energy resources, to nurture ourselves. Plants send their ‘juices’ deep into the ground to be stored through the winter in roots until needed for new growth, which mostly occurs in the spring.

In Ayurveda fall is the Vata time of year. From an article on the Banyan Botanicals web site about fall foods and herbs that nourish us this time of year, “Fall is a time of transition. It is evident everywhere around you. Many trees and shrubs are quietly undressing in preparation for the winter.” It is the season of the elements air and either.

Foods that help balance us during this time are those of the elements earth and water, foods of the fall harvest such as winter squashes, pumpkins, parsnips, root vegetables – grounding foods.


Enjoy this time of harvest, fall color, molting, rejuvenation. Conserve your energies, prepare for new growth in your life!


Note: My last post had less readers, no web site comments and only one email commenting on it. It may have been too wordy, too philosophical, maybe it just plain didn’t make sense! The famous poet John Lydgate, (a quote later adapted by President Lincoln) said “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time”. My expectations are modest, some of the people some of the time would be great! I blog because I like to write and to have a purpose for sitting to write.  After 8 years of blogging, it’s a good time to take stock of what people would like to read and see here. I would love feedback on what readers enjoy from my blog.