It’s Molting Time – Crows, Herons & Madrona Trees

We humans in the fall change our wardrobe for the season.   Do you have fond memories of doing our school clothes shopping and getting the latest new fashions?

Nature has a similar cycle every year in preparation for Winter.   The Crows, especially the youngsters, are looking a little straggly.   You notice the light brownishness or thinness around the neck and at the wing elbow areas.

If you want to read more about Birds Molting here is a good article from Stanford University.

http://www.stanford.edu/group/stanfordbirds/text/essays/Molting.html

Today I took a picture at the beach showing a crow with that brownish bedraggled look that molting gives them.

Mom - where's my new winter coat?

The other bird at the beach who was showing signs of molting was the resident Blue Heron.   I can’t get quite as close to him as the Crows so these pictures don’t show it as clearly.   I could see his neck feathers were degraded while looking through my binoculars.   My camera zoom wasn’t as good as my binocs but  look closely at his long neck to see his feathers are changing.

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Blue Heron at the beach - look at his neck & leg for signs of molting

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Heron's long neck looks disheveled from molting.

The last species that I saw today molting in its own way are the Madrona Trees on the trail to the beach.  They have this beautiful and very different looking bark.  Most of the year it is a reddish mahogany color but this time of year they start to peel their old skins and reveal underneath a brand new bark that is greenish until it ages.  It is also as smooth as a polished agate.   The trail is littered with this bark and their leaves that they are partially shedding too.

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Madrona Trees also molt this time of year. The bark is just like paper laying on the trail.

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