OK, so I picked up Olympia, my Black Australorp, today, and felt bare skin on her belly!!!! I turned her over and sure enough, there are two broad strips down her belly (on either side of the keel) that are pretty much bare. She looks great, glossy, full-feathered. You can't SEE this feather loss at all, unless you turn her over. My first thought was: beginning of a molt? But, I thought the head loses feathers first. Plus, she is just about exactly one year old and it is spring. Then I thought: maybe she is plucking herself because she is quasi-broody? (She has been sort of quasi-broody for a few weeks now. Sitting for longer than usual on the nest and puffing up and yelling if bothered.... BUT she has not taken it as far as REAL broodiness.) But wouldn't that be BREAST feathers she'd be plucking, not BELLY??? Then I picked up my other 3 girls, to see if maybe it's normal and I just bever noticed it before. Well, 2 or the other 3 have a similar, although not quite so drastic, bare area. The last is totally feathered in the same area. Now, these other two hens have each -just once!- done the puff-up-screech thing to me when I checked under them in the nest box. Is it possible that they are all quasi-broody and plucking their bellies? But you see, it's UNDERNEATH their bodies.... is that what broodies do??? There is no sign of mites or anything like that. They are all very healthy and glossy-feathered otherwise. What the heck is going on?