Peacock

by Shelby Galladay

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The Peacock (Pavo cristatus), or otherwise known as the Indian Peafowl is a brightly colored bird of the pheasant family that is native to South Asia. It wasn’t until 1758 that the species was first named and described (Indian Peafowl).  The peacock is the national bird of India and it symbolizes grace, joy, beauty and love (NBI,cultural india). The pheasant has been celebrated in Indian and Greek mythology. It is listed as of Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature(IUCN)(IP).  The bird is recognized by vibrant feathers and its shrieking calls that it makes.

Information about the peacock (fun facts)

  • A male is called a peacock (peafowl)
  • A female is called a peahen (peafowl)
  • A baby is called a peachick (peafowl)
  • Body length, 35-50 inches ( Peacock,national Geo)
  • Tail length, 5ft (peacock, National Geo)
  • Weight 8.75-13 lbs (peacock, National Geo)
  • Group of peacocks is called a Party (peacock, National Geo)
  • Females do not have tail feathers
  • The peacock can fly
  • Lifespan is up to 20 years

Diet

Peacocks are ground feeders and will eat almost anything that they can find on the ground.  They are considered omnivorous and will consume seeds, fruits, insects, small mammals, and reptiles (Indian peacocks).  They will also not stray way from eating a small snake if they find one.  Since they are birds that mainly live on the ground, a big chunk of their food comes from berries that have fallen from the trees or bushes above.   Even peacocks who live in high cultivated areas will feed on tomatoes, garden plants, and sometimes even human excreta.

Behavior

Peacocks are considered to be a very social bird, due to the fact that they live in groups known as a muster, with several other females, 3-5 and one male (Indian peacock,). Usually after breeding season, the flocks tend to be made up of only females and young. During the early morning hours are when they are seen out in the open and tend to stay in the brush during the later parts of the day.  To keep themselves clean, peafowl will take a dust-bath by rolling or throwing dirt onto themselves.  They like to travel in groups when moving from place to place or going to the watering hole. This changes when a predator startles them. When they are disturbed, peacocks will escape by running away. Even though peacocks are birds that can fly, they are rarely seen doing so.  Peafowl tend to make loud calls or noises especially during breeding season. They will also make calls at night when they are alarmed or to warn other birds of danger.  At night, peafowl will roost in groups on tall trees to get up off the ground and away from predators.

Habit

The peacock is a resident of the Indian subcontinent and is found in the drier lowlands of India. Particularly in South Asia, the peafowl resides in the moist and dry-deciduous forests. Currently, peacocks have adapted to live in cultivated regions and around humans. But they are usually found where water is available. You will also observe peacocks at many zoos around the world. Peacocks tend to be free to walk around were they please. Peacocks are found in all parts of the world, like Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and America just to name a few. Even in some of these places the species as become feral.

Coloration( plumage)

 

077.JPGJust like our finger prints are unique to us, so is the coloration of a peacock to him.  The body of a male peafowl has metallic blue feathers on their head that extend down their body.  He has a fan-shaped crest on the top of his head which is made of feathers with bare black shafts that are tipped with bluish-green webbing.  A white stripe which is formed by bare white skin will be above and below the eye. On the side of the head will be iridescent greenish blue feathers. His back will have scaly bronze-green feathers with black and copper markings. The tail is dark brown and the train is made up of elongated upper tail feathers (the train will have more than 200 feathers, and the actual tail only has 20). Majority of the train feathers will have an elaborate eye-spot, and the outer feathers are crescent shaped with a black tip.

061.JPGThe female peafowl is completely different in color and some would consider her ugly.  She is brown in color with a crest on her head like he male, but the tips are chestnut edged with green. The upper body has pale mottling along with the brown coloring. The lower neck of the peahen is metallic green and breast feathers have some green along with the brown. The remaining underparts of her body are a whitish color.

 

Picking a mate

 

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Male peacocks will do all that they can to get the attention of females when it comes time for mating. He does this by fanning out his colorful tail feathers, shaking or quivering them and prancing around in front of the peahens, this keeps them interesting in the male.  However, it is the peahen’s decision if she wants to mate with that particular male.  The ornate train is believed to be the result of female sexual selections.  Some scientist believe that a female is attracted to the male by the number of eyespots that are one his train, but several studies have failed to find a relationship between the number of eyespots and mating success.  Others feel that female selection might depend on other sexual traits of a male’s train. Studies have suggested that the condition of the train or the quality makes them more appealing or less appealing to the female. It takes a fit male to maintain a long and healthy train. Therefore, females associate a good train to a male that will give her strong offspring.  One peacock will reproduce with an average of six peahens each year (Pawnation).  The reproductive season for the peafowl starts in April and ends in September.

 


The peacock can be seen in many cultures today and throughout history and has numerous iconic representations. The peacock is seen to represent glory, immortality, royalty, and is the possessor of some of the most admired human characteristics. The peacock is a symbol of integrity and beauty.  In history, myth, legend and religion, the peacock is considered and emblem of protection, nobility, watchfulness and wisdom. Since the bird originated in Asia, the peacock plays a big role in the religion of Hinduism, and is also the national bird of India. Many Hindu deities are associated with the peacock. In the Indian language, Sanskirt, peacocks are known as Mayura, because the word is associated with to kill and peacocks are believed to be the killer of snakes. The god of war, Karthikeya, in this culture is depicted on the riding on a peacock.  Many of the folk tales of the India culture involve being blessed by the peacock with “a thousand eye” like his train and to be fearless of snakes. The bird is also honored in a dance called the Mayilattam, which is a religious and artistic dance done in reverence to Lard Subrahmanya (Encyclo, UK).

The peacock is also seen in Greek mythology, which explains the origin of the peacocks plumage in the story of Hera.

. Hera bestowed the peacock with the eye like coloration on his train to pay honor to Argus (a Greek mythological figure). Argus died while trying to keep the orders of Hera. So she gave his thousand eyes to the peacock, because it was her favorite bird.

            This colorful bird also is reference with Christianity. They symbolize the peacock with the resurrection, renewal and immortality. This came from the ancient legend that the flesh of the peacock did not decay. That is why in many paintings and scenes has a peacock in them. Christians also associate the shedding of the feathers every year to grow new ones as a sign of renewal, and use them to decorate for Easter and Christmas. They also feel that eyes of the peacocks feathers symbolize the all seeing eye of God.

            Today, the symbol of the peacock can be seen on the home page of the Santa Fe Website, because of its connection to wisdom. And you also see it every time you turn the TV on and watch NBC.

Clothing/Jewelry

             The peacock not only makes his mark in history, but also in the fashion world. Peacock feathers can be seen in the fabrics of clothing or hanging from earrings. The peacock has been a fashion statement for centuries.

Roasted Peacock:

Ingredients-  bread, egg, Onion(diced), Apple(diced), Garlic(diced), Bacon(chopped), Rosemary sprigs, Parsley(chopped), Celery, Pepper, White wine, and Chicken stock cube.

Pre-heat oven to 325F

Procedure-

  1. Sauté the onion, bacon, and garlic
  2. Tear bread into small pieces, and combine with other dry ingredients
  3. Whisk chick stock cude into1cup of water, then whisk in the egg and glass of wine
  4. Pour stock liquid over the dry stuffing, mixing continually until moisture satisfactory
  5. Stuff the peacock with the mixture
  6. Insert several sprigs of rosemary into the stuffing
  7. Tie the legs together
  8. Dust large oven bag with flour, and layer celery and onion in bottom of bag
  9. Rub peacock with butter and season with salt and pepper
  10. Drape with the bacon mixture
  11. Put the peacock into the bag
  12. Seal the bag and make 4 or 5 small vent holes
  13. Cook for 3 hours

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Sound of a peacock: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9MhZPqHeEAQ

Citations

  • BirdLife International (2014) Species factsheet: Pavo cristatus. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 14/04/2014. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2014) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 14/04/2014.
  • “Peacocks, Peacock Pictures, Peacock Facts – National Geographic.” National Geographic. National Geographic, 2014. Web. 14 Apr. 2014.
  • “National Bird of India.” National Bird Of India. India Tours, n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2014.
  • “About Peacocks.” Weekend Picnic Spot near Pune, Mumbai|Morachi Chincholi|Agri Tourism|Peacocks near Pune|Indian National Bird|peacock Sanctuary|Rural Culture in Maharashtra » About Peacocks. N.p., 2014. Web. 14 Apr. 2014.
  • “The National Bird of India, Indian National Bird, Peacock, Indian National Symbols.” The National Bird of India, Indian National Bird, Peacock, Indian National Symbols. Indif.com, 2009. Web. 14 Apr. 2014.
  • Wilbur, Gregory. “The Meaning of Symbols.” : Peacock Symbolism. N.p., 3 Mar. 2009. Web. 14 Apr. 2014
  • Venefica, Avia. “Symbolic Meanings Blog for Whats-Your-Sign.com.” Symbolic Meanings Blog by Avia Venefica RSS. Wordpres, 17 Aug. 2007. Web. 14 Apr. 2014.
  • Caswell, Don. “Roast Peacock Recipe – AUSSIEHUNTER.” AUSSIEHUNTER. WordPress, Oct. 2012. Web. 14 Apr. 2014.
  • “Exotic Meat Market.” Peacock Meat. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2014
  • “Peacock.” Animal Facts and Information RSS. Bioexpedition, 2013. Web. 14 Apr. 2014

 

Digital media

Peacock pictures- supplied by me

“Peacock Sound.” YouTube. YouTube, 18 July 2008. Web. 14 Apr. 2014.

“Peacock Courtship Dance.” YouTube. YouTube, 12 Mar. 2010. Web. 14 Apr. 2014