Lesson 1158 – There’s something else about Zelda

zelda grey


In past posts, here and here, I wrote about how our grey Easter Egger, Zelda had turned into a rooster over the winter. Something had happened to her and she threw off enough testosterone to show male characteristics. Guesses for this change ran from a tumor on her reproductive organs, to hen-o-pause, to an illness, no one really knew what was going on.

zelda rooster

She changed color, her neck feathers grew long and spiked and she developed a rooster’s tail.

I had heard of this happening (rarely but there were stories) and so I figured that Zelda was just being Zelda – so she’s transgender, it’s a little weird, but that’s okay, all are welcome in our flock.

With the recent falcon attack, I went out to the coop to take a full inventory of our chickens.

“I can’t find Zelda,” I told Marc fearing the worst. The Falcon must have gotten her. I mean it stood to reason, she was the alpha of the flock and if anyone would stand up to a predator, it would have been Zelda.

As Zelda is one of our family favorites, I broke the news to each of the kids one-by-one. When I told Addy, she replied with “No, she’s there, but she’s all white now.”

Some of my kids have speech impediments and so I had to clarify, “She’s all right?” I said a little confused. If she was all right, then where was she?

“No Mom, she’s all white. She’s turned white.”

I went out with her to the coop and she pointed out Zelda to me. Sure enough, Zelda has turned back into a hen. Gone are her neck feathers and her tail plumage.


In fact gone is pretty much everything that we had ever used to identify her except for her eyes, her comb, and that metal band around her leg (she’s the only one in our flock with a metal band – her previous owners had placed it on her before we purchased her.)

Honestly, if this were any other person I would question this story. A hen turns into a rooster which turns into a hen – and all three times, she completely changes coloring, um yeah, right. But I assure you, this is the same bird, and I’m just as surprised as you are.

It appears we have a chameleon chicken in our midst.


Addition: I found a photo of Zelda from this summer. It shows her beginning to change to white. The color didn’t happen overnight, it was gradual enough for us to not even initially notice.




Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com

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Filed under All things chickens, Backyard Chickens, chicken care, Personal

12 responses to “Lesson 1158 – There’s something else about Zelda

  1. Henopause :))))!!! Love that term!! Maybe, like humans go gray/white as they get older, Zelda has lost the pigment in her feathers as she got older, too.

  2. Kate Rothwell

    didn’t she shed all the grey feathers???

  3. Maybe it’s some kind of chicken version of vitiligo? Vitiligo is a disease where you loose pigment in your skin, but it’s very gradual. Your chicken is very unique! You should see if there are any vet schools nearby willing to take DNA samples from your chicken to study them (for free). I’m sure someone would be interested in taking look at Zelda!

  4. glynnis lessing

    Wendy, this has been the most fascinating story!! I love that you have documented it. I was trying to guess what Zelda was turning into next- I never ever would have guessed all white like that!

  5. Jeff Westbrook

    Love this story,
    from a small homestead in Missouri.

  6. What a wacky story! And I thought we had trouble just figuring out whether we had girl or boy ducks!!! Thx for sharing!

  7. Pingback: Riding the tide of a great story | Live to Write - Write to Live

  8. Dana M

    Poor thing! Talk about gender identity disorder. Very interesting, thanks for sharing.

  9. I got a chicken,who looked like a hen first. Then comb ,feet,tail, got largerand grew spurs on feet.her or he is named ,.miracle has half a crow

  10. Pingback: Lesson 1261 – Update on Zelda (hen to rooster to hen) | Lessons Learned from the Flock

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