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Learn the Chicken Keepers' Vocabulary

The real chicken-fancier, when asked to describe the color of his birds replies, "Nankin Spangled, and nicely Foxy Frizzled".

  • Barring: Stripes of light and dark across each feather.
  • Bay: Browny red colour.
  • Brassiness: Yellow colouring on the back and wing feathers.
  • Cuckoo banding: Stripes where the boundaries are indistinct.
  • Daw eyed: Pearly eyes like a Jackdaw.
  • Double laced: Two stripes running round the edge of the feather.
  • Dusky: Yellowy black colouring.
  • Foxy: A rusty red colour.
  • Frizzled: Feathers that curl back on themselves, with the end eventually pointing towards the bird's head.
  • Gay: Plumage with too much white in the marking.
  • Ground colour: The main plumage colour.
  • Lacing: A thin stripe of colour running all the way around the edge of a feather.
  • Lustre: Shiny plumage. When the feathers are black this is described as a sheen.
  • Mealy: Ground colour mottled with a paler colour.
  • Moons: Round spangles at the tip of the feathers.
  • Mossy: A muddled marking.
  • Mottled: Plumage marked with spots of different colour.
  • Nankin: A yellowy colour named after nankeen cloth.
  • Pencilling: Fine lines marking on the feathers.
  • Peppering: A dark colour stippled over a lighter one.
  • Self colour: A uniformly coloured bird.
  • Sheen: Green surface shine on black feathers.
  • Spangled: The pattern produced when there is a spot of colour at the end of the feathers differing from the ground.
  • Splashed: Contrasting colour to ground randomly splashed over feathers
  • Ticked: Feathers with a v-shaped marking at the tip.
  • Undercolour: The colour of the fluff under the main feathers.
  • Wing bar: A line of colour across the middle of a wing.

Plymouth Rock hen
Plymouth Rock hen - mottled or spangled?

Customer Images


Fiona, 20 November 2021

Thank you for this great post. I found it to fresh and helpful in this day and age of quick and wrong is king.

Hansell, 6 April 2020

Interesting info for new owner of chickens

Claudia, 9 July 2016

Very nice colour! Does Rosalyn Serex sale chickens? How can we contact her? Thank you!