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Indian Peacock

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About
The male Indian Peafowl, commonly known as the peacock, is one of the
most recognizable birds in the world. These large, brightly colored birds
have a distinctive crest and an unmistakable ornamental train. The train
(1.4-1.6 meters in length) accounts for more than 60% of their total body
length (2.3 meters). Combined with a large wingspan (1.4-1.6 meters), this
train makes the male peafowl one of the largest flying birds in the world.
The train is formed by 100-150 highly specialized uppertail-coverts. Each
of these feathers sports an ornamental ocellus, or eye-spot, and has long
disintegrated barbs, giving the feathers a loose, fluffy appearance. When
displaying to a female, the peacock erects this train into a spectacular fan,
displaying the ocelli to their best advantage.

The more subtly colored female Peafowl is mostly brown above with a white belly. Her ornamentation is limited to
a prominent crest and green neck feathers. Though females (2.75-4.0 kg) weigh nearly as much as the males
(4.0-6.0 kg), they rarely exceed 1.0 meter in total body length.

National Insignia
The Indian peacock,Pavo cristatus (Linnaeus), the national bird of India, is a colourful, swan-sized bird, with a
fan-shaped crest of feathers, a white patch under the eye and a long, slender neck.

The peacock is widely found in the Indian sub-continent from the south and east of the Indus river, Jammu and
Kashmir, east Assam, south Mizoram and the whole of the Indian peninsula. The peacock enjoys immense
protection. It is fully protected under the Indian Wildlife Protection) Act, 1972.

Distribution and Habitat


The Indian Peafowl occurs from eastern Pakistan through India, south from the Himalayas to Sri Lanka. Though
once common in Bangladesh, it may now be extinct in that country. Its highly ornamental appearance motivated
early seafarers to transplant the peafowl to their homelands in other parts of the western world. Phoenician
traders in the time of King Solomon (1000 B.C.) introduced the birds to present-day Syria and the Egyptian
Pharaohs.

In its native India, the peafowl is a creature of the open forests and
riparian undergrowth. In southern India, it also prefers stream-side forests
but may also be found in orchards and other cultivated areas.

Diet
Indian Peafowl do most of their foraging in the early morning and shortly
before sunset. They retreat to the shade and security of the forest for the
hottest portion of the day. Foods include grains, insects, small reptiles,
small mammals, berries, drupes, wild figs, and some cultivated crops.

Conservation and History of Relationship with Man


The great beauty and popularity of the Indian Peafowl has guaranteed its protection throughout most of its native
and introduced ranges. It is the national bird of India. The peafowl is prominent in the mythology and folklore of
the Indian people. The Hindus consider the bird to be sacred because the god Kartikeya (son of the Lord Shiva
and Parvati and brother to the god Ganesh) rides on its back. Legends hold that the peafowl can charm snakes
and addle their eggs.

Greek mythology describes how the peacock acquired the many eyes in his ornamental train. The goddess Hera
had a beautiful priestess named Io. Io was greatly admired by Zeus. To protect her from Hera’s jealousy Zeus
transformed Io into a heifer. Hera tricked Zeus into giving the heifer to her as a gift and set her faithful servant
Argus to watch over her. Argus had numerous eyes all over his body, making him a natural choice for the
assignment. Zeus sent the god Hermes to free Io from Hera’s watchman. Hermes charmed Argus to sleep until
all of his eyes were closed and then killed him. To honor her faithful watchman, Hera took Argus’ eyes and
placed them on the tail of the peacock.

This long and close association with humans has proven the peafowl’s adaptability to human-altered landscapes.
This species does not appear to need any additional legal protection or conservation attention.

In India, it is said that peacocks walk freely and unfettered because they
are the revered symbol of Lord Krishna. As a testament to this reverence
they have been named the national bird of India, the world's largest
democracy. Even outside of India, people worldwide have been captivated
by the magnificent and strange beauty of this most exotic member of the
Pheasant family.

In all reality, when people talk of peacocks they are only acknowledging
the male member of the peafowl species. Females are called peahens,
and lack the enormous train of tail feathers that is their male
counterparts' claim to fame. As is very common in the animal kingdom,
the females are plainly colored and quite a bit smaller.

Peafowl are divided into three main groups: The most common Indian
Peafowl, the Green Peafowl, and the White Peafowl. The males of each
group use their brilliant tail display, containing exactly 20 large feathers,
in their manly gambit for the best mate. The fan or train, as these tail
feathers are called, is supported by smaller, shorter tail feathers. The
colorful tail feathers do not grow in until the peacock is three years old,
and the trains are molted yearly, usually during the summer months.

When a peacock wants a mate, he will display his train and strut by the
nearest female, puffing out his chest and shaking his tail feathers as he
goes. During mating season, the peafowl are also very vocal, making
mewing cries that can sound like a kitten or small child. In India, the
mating season coincides with the monsoon season, and so the mewing
calls, translated to "minh-ao" by the Indians, has come to mean, literally,
"there will be rain."

A peahen usually does not mate until she reaches her third year. She will
lay an average of 2-6 eggs at a time, hiding them in the forest while
laying decoy eggs out in the open. The eggs hatch after 28 days. The pea
chicks are small with yellow and brown markings and resemble young
turkey hatchlings.
Peafowl love to roost in trees during the night. A mother peahen will try
to get her babies to fly up into the trees as soon as she can after their
birth, and she will shelter them with her wings as they sleep. She will find
small insects and berries and teach them to eat.

Native to Asia, peafowl can now be found on almost every continent,


including Africa, North America and Europe. The birds have been
domesticated in many parts of the world, and there is a small but strong
group of breeders and trainers worldwide. In the wild, peafowl live in
groups and tend to prefer forested areas. They are hardy birds that live
an average of 20 years in the wild, and sometimes can exceed 30 years
under human care. They are omnivorous, eating grasses and berries as
well as small snakes and lizards. In India, they are known for keeping the
cobra population under control, as they often eat baby cobras.
The term peafowl can refer to the two species of bird in the genus Pavo of
the pheasant family, Phasianidae. The African Congo Peafowlis placed in its own genus Afropavo and
is not dealt with here. Peafowl are best known for the male's extravagant tail, which it displays as part
of courtship. The male is called a peacock, and the female a peahen,[1] although it is common to hear
the female also referred to as a "peacock" or "female peacock". The female peafowl is brown or toned
grey and brown. The two species are:

 Indian Peafowl, Pavo cristatus (Asiatic)


 Green Peafowl, Pavo muticus (Asiatic)

The Indian Peafowl is a resident breeder in the Indian subcontinent. The peacock is designated as
the national bird of India and the provincial bird of the Punjab (Pakistan).

The Green Peafowl breeds from Burma east to Java. The IUCN lists the Green Peafowl as
vulnerable to extinction due to hunting and a reduction in extent and quality of habitat.

Contents
[hide]

• 1 Plumage

• 2 Behaviour

• 3 Diet

• 4 Feral

populations

• 5 Cultural

significance

• 6 References

• 7 External links
• 8 Gallery

[edit]Plumage

Close-up of a male Indian Peafowl's plumage

The male (peacock) Indian Peafowl has iridescent blue-green or green colored plumage. The so-
called "tail" of the peacock, also termed the "train," is not the tail quill feathers but highly elongated
upper tail coverts. The train feathers have a series of eyes that are best seen when the tail is fanned.
Both species have a crest atop the head.

The female (peahen) Indian Peafowl has a mixture of dull green, brown, and grey in her plumage. She
lacks the long upper tail coverts of the male but has a crest. The female can also display her plumage
to ward off female competition or danger to her young.

The Green Peafowl is different in appearance from the Indian Peafowl. The male has green and gold
plumage and has an erect crest. The wings are black with a sheen of blue.

Unlike the Indian Peafowl, the Green Peahen is very similar to the male, only having shorter upper tail
coverts and less iridescence. It is very hard to tell a juvenile male from an adult female.

Many of the brilliant colours of the peacock plumage are due to an


optical interference phenomenon, Bragg reflection, based on (nearly) periodic nanostructures found in
the barbules (fiber-like components) of the feathers.

Different colours correspond to different length scales of the periodic structures. For brown feathers, a
mixture of red and blue is required: one colour is created by the periodic structure, and the other is a
created by a Fabry–Pérot interference peak from reflections off the outermost and innermost
boundaries of the periodic structure. White (albino) peafowls are sometimes bred.

Such interference-based structural colour is especially important in producing the


peacock's iridescent hues (which shimmer and change with viewing angle), since interference effects
depend upon the angle of light, unlike chemical pigments.

[edit]Behaviour
A rear view of an Indian Blue Peacock's train feathers

The peafowl are forest birds that nest on the ground. The Pavo peafowl are terrestrial feeders but
roost in trees.

Both species of Peafowl are believed to be polygamous[2]. However, it has been suggested that
"females" entering a male Green Peafowl's territory [3] are really his own juvenile or subadult young (K.
B. Woods in litt. 2000) and that Green Peafowl are really monogamous in the wild. The male peacock
flares out its feathers when it is trying to get the female's attention. Those who subscribe to this notion
cite the similarities between the sexes.

During mating season they will often emit a very loud high pitched cry.

[edit]Diet

Peafowl are omnivorous and eat most plant parts, flower petals, seed heads, insects and other
arthropods, reptiles, and amphibians.

In common with other members of the Galliformes, males possess metatarsal spurs or "thorns" used
primarily during intraspecific fights.

[edit]Feral populations
Peafowl have left captivity and developed permanent, free-roaming populations in several parts of the
world including India, the foothills of the Toquima mountains in central Nevada, parts of Florida
including Coconut Grove and Longboat Key[4][5], Oahu, Hawaii, and Brownsea Island, Dorset, Britain.
[edit]Cultural significance
In 1956, John J. Graham created an abstraction of an eleven-feathered peacock logo to indicate
richness in color. This brightly hued peacock was adopted due to the increase in color
programming. NBC's first color broadcasts showed only a still frame of the colorful peacock. The
emblem made its first on-air appearance on May 22, 1956.[6]

In the Azidi religion, Melek Taus, a major figure in their faith, is depicted as a Peafowl.

Peacocks were also associated with the ancient Greek god Hera.

Peacocks are large, colorful pheasants (typically blue and green) known for their iridescent tails. These tail
feathers, or coverts, spread out in a distinctive train that is more than 60 percent of the bird’s total body length
and boast colorful "eye" markings of blue, gold, red, and other hues. The large train is used in mating rituals and
courtship displays. It can be arched into a magnificent fan that reaches across the bird's back and touches the
ground on either side. Females are believed to choose their mates according to the size, color, and quality of
these outrageous feather trains.
The term "peacock" is commonly used to refer to birds of both sexes. Technically, only males are peacocks.
Females are peahens, and together, they are called peafowl.
Suitable males may gather harems of several females, each of which will lay three to five eggs. In fact, wild
peafowl often roost in forest trees and gather in groups called parties.
Peacocks are ground-feeders that eat insects, plants, and small creatures. There are two familiar peacock
species. The blue peacock lives in India and Sri Lanka, while the green peacock is found in Java and Myanmar
(Burma). A more distinct and little-known species, the Congo peacock, inhabits African rain forests.
Peafowl such as the blue peacock have been admired by humans and kept as pets for thousands of years.
Selective breeding has created some unusual color combinations, but wild birds are themselves bursting with
vibrant hues. They can be testy and do not mix well with other domestic birds.
Blue peacock is regarded as one of the most beautiful birds throughout the world. It is also the National Bird of
the Indian subcontinent. Peacock is the name given to a male peafowl, while the female is known as Peahen.
Scientifically known as Pavo cristatus (Linnaeus), the Peafowl of India is a swan-sized bird, with a long and
slender neck. It is a forest bird, which usually stay on the ground. However, while roosting, it prefers to stay on
trees.

Physical Traits
One of the most unique as well as distinctive features of the Blue peacocks is their beautiful train, comprising of
tail feathers. The train is 1.4-1.6 m long, measuring more than 60 percent of the body length. It comprises of 100-
150 highly specialized upper tail coverts. Whenever a peacock wants to attract a peahen, it erects the train into a
fabulous fan. The entire body length of the Indian peacocks averages around 2.3 m and the wingspan is around
1.4-1.6 m long. Their weight hovers around 4.0 to 6.0 kg.

Indian peahen is almost brown in color, with the only exception being its
white belly. The sole embellishment adorning the peahen is its prominent
crest and the green neck feathers. Peahens are shorter than peacocks
and measure not more than 1 m in length. Their weight is somewhere
between 2.75 and 4.0 kg. The peacock as well as the peahen has a white
patch under the eyes.

Natural Habitat
Peafowl can be found inhabiting open forests and riparian undergrowth in
the India subcontinent. In southern regions, it can also seen in streamside
forests, orchards and other cultivated areas.

Geographical Range
The geographical location of the Blue peafowl stretches on from eastern Pakistan through India and from the
Himalayas to Sri Lanka. It is believed that the bird has become extinct in Bangladesh. In India, the area inhabited
by the peafowl extends from the south and east of the Indus River, Jammu and Kashmir, east Assam, south
Mizoram and the whole of the Indian peninsula.

Mating Behavior
Indian Blue peacock is polygamous by nature and can mate with upto six peahens at a time. The number of eggs
laid falls between four and eight and the incubation period lasts for around 28 days. The eggs are usually laid in
the afternoon and are light brown in color.

Diet
Blue Peacock is omnivorous and primarily consumes grains, insects, small reptiles, small mammals, berries,
drupes, wild figs and some of the cultivated crops. One can find them foraging either early in the morning or just
before sunset.

Status
Blue peacock has been provided with adequate safety. It has been fully protected under the Indian Wildlife
Protection Act, 1972.

Trivia

• The American television network, NBC, has been using a rainbow peacock logo since 1956
• The logo of the national carrier of Sri Lanka, Sri Lankan Airlines, is also a Peacock
• One can find numerous references to peacocks in the local folktales of India
• As per Hindu mythology, peacock is regarded as the carrier of God Kartikeya
The Indian Peacock is the country's National Bird. This beautiful bird is characterized by a distinctive crest and a
very brightly colored and exquisitely decorated train. The train is probably the most noticeable part of the
peacock's body. It contributes to more than half of the peacock's length.

The Indian Peacock is one of the largest flying birds in the world. The wings combined with the train makes it so.
The feathers in the train consist of an eye spot and long disintegrated parallel filaments projecting from its main
shaft. When the peacock displays its fan shaped crest of feathers it is indeed a very magnificent sight to behold.

It is found throughout the country. This swan sized bird has a white patch under the eye and its neck is long and
slender.

The Indian peacock prefers to live in the open forests even though it is sometimes seen in the orchards. It hunts
for its prey either at break of day or just before sunset. For the rest of the day they prefer the soothing shade of
the trees. Its diet includes a variety of things including grains, berries, crops, figs as well as insects, small
mammals and reptiles.

Surely everyone who has ever had a glimpse of this bird will be impressed by its beauty. It is held as sacred by
the Hindus because Kartikeyan rides on its back. There are also several mythological stories that are associated
with the Indian peacock and its fascinating train.

The Indian peacock is very well protected by the Indian Wild Life protection Act. However the peacock has
displayed remarkable adaptability and adjusted itself to the changing surroundings so much so that it no longer
requires any particular attention for conservation. No special projects have been undertaken to ensure its safety.

www.indiaprofile.com provides information on the Indian Peacock and offers on line booking for Wildlife Tours in
India.

In India, it is said that peacocks walk freely and unfettered because they
are the revered symbol of Lord Krishna. As a testament to this reverence
they have been named the national bird of India, the world's largest
democracy. Even outside of India, people worldwide have been
captivated by the magnificent and strange beauty of this most exotic
member of the Pheasant family.

In all reality, when people talk of peacocks they are only acknowledging
the male member of the peafowl species. Females are called peahens,
and lack the enormous train of tail feathers that is their male
counterparts' claim to fame. As is very common in the animal kingdom,
the females are plainly colored and quite a bit smaller.

Peafowl are divided into three main groups: The most common Indian
Peafowl, the Green Peafowl, and the White Peafowl. The males of each
group use their brilliant tail display, containing exactly 20 large feathers,
in their manly gambit for the best mate. The fan or train, as these tail
feathers are called, is supported by smaller, shorter tail feathers. The
colorful tail feathers do not grow in until the peacock is three years old,
and the trains are molted yearly, usually during the summer months.

When a peacock wants a mate, he will display his train and strut by the
nearest female, puffing out his chest and shaking his tail feathers as he
goes. During mating season, the peafowl are also very vocal, making
mewing cries that can sound like a kitten or small child. In India, the
mating season coincides with the monsoon season, and so the mewing
calls, translated to "minh-ao" by the Indians, has come to mean, literally,
"there will be rain."

A peahen usually does not mate until she reaches her third year. She will
lay an average of 2-6 eggs at a time, hiding them in the forest while
laying decoy eggs out in the open. The eggs hatch after 28 days. The pea
chicks are small with yellow and brown markings and resemble
young turkey hatchlings.

Peafowl love to roost in trees during the night. A mother peahen will try to
get her babies to fly up into the trees as soon as she can after their birth,
and she will shelter them with her wings as they sleep. She will find small
insects and berries and teach them to eat.

Native to Asia, peafowl can now be found on almost every continent,


including Africa, North America and Europe. The birds have been
domesticated in many parts of the world, and there is a small but strong
group of breeders and trainers worldwide. In the wild, peafowl live in
groups and tend to prefer forested areas. They are hardy birds that live
an average of 20 years in the wild, and sometimes can exceed 30 years
under human care. They are omnivorous, eating grasses and berries as
well as small snakes and lizards. In India, they are known for keeping the
cobra population under control, as they often eat baby cobras.

The peafowl are the three species of bird in the genera Pavo and Afropavo
of the pheasant family, Phasianidae. They are most notable for the male's
extravagant tail, a result of sexual selection, which it displays as part of
courtship. The male is called a peacock, the female a peahen.

The male (peacock) has beautiful iridescent blue-green or green coloured


plumage. His tail feathers have a series of eyes that are best seen when
the tail is fanned. Both species have a head crest.

The female (peahen) has a mixture of dull green, brown and grey in her
plumage. She lacks the long tail of the male, but has a crest.

Many of the brilliant colors of the peacock plumage are due to an optical
interference phenomenon (Bragg reflection) based on (nearly) periodic
nanostructures found in the barbules (fiber-like components) of the
feathers.

Different colors correspond to different length scales of the periodic


structures. For brown feathers, a mixture of red and blue is required?one
color is created by the periodic structure, while the other is a created by a
Fabry-Perot interference peak from reflections off the outermost and
innermost boundaries of the periodic structure.

Such interference-based structural color is especially important in


producing the peacock's iridescent hues (which shimmer and change with
viewing angle), since interference effects depend upon the angle of light,
unlike chemical pigments.

In captivity, the peafowl has produced many plumage color variations.


Those are mutations that have been secured by selective breeding. They
included: white bodied, barred winged, white eyed, pied, cameo,
charcoal, bronze, opal, peach, midnight, purple, and any combination of
these variations

The Indian Peafowl is native to India and Sri Lanka. The Green Peafowl
breeds from Myanmar east to Java. The IUCN lists the Green Peafowl as
vulnerable to extinction due to hunting and a reduction in extent and
quality of habitat. The two Pavo species will hybridize.

The peafowl are forest birds which nest on the ground. They eat mainly
seeds, but also some insects and fruit. The Pavo peafowl are terrestrial
feeders, but roost in trees. They are reluctant fliers other than to access
their roosts
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