Peacocks belong to the pheasant family of birds, mainly found in Asia and are among the most decorated birds on earth. Even among all pheasants, no other bird comes close to the peacock’s massive tail, the vibrant colors and its looks. It is not without reason that India has chosen this colorful bird as its National Bird. The mighty Mughal emperor Shah Jahan even designed his throne in gold as a peacock that became the power seat for later Mughals
1. Peacock is the male bird.
The female is called ‘peahen’, and the babies ‘pea chicks’. Males are usually larger than the females and have longer tails.
2. A group of female peafowls is called a ‘Bevy’.
Female power to the fore. Their grouping does have a special name but you are free to call one a muster, or even a party.
3. Peacocks are not born with a fancy tail.
The male birds are very ordinary when they hatch. When young, they look like their mothers. It’s is only after 6 months that the males begin to look different. The plume only grows after 3 years of age and the tails can grow to as long as 6 feet.
4. Peacocks shed their feathers yearly.
Interestingly, peacocks take on a fresh feather set each year after the old one is discarded. A male peacock can live for 20 years.
5. Peacocks are flying birds.
These large birds with massive tails, when in flight, look like an passing rainbow. But they cannot fly very long distances.
6. The white peafowl are not albinos.
A gene mutation causes peacocks to lose their pigmentation which turns them into while peafowls.
7. Peacocks are hunted for their feathers.
Peacock is a nationally protected bird but in medieval days, the bird was regularly hunted, more for its feathers than its meat. At a noble’s dining party, one could be served a roasted peacock with all the feathers redressed, but the meat normally proved hard to digest.
8. Peacock can send out fake mating calls.
Peacock’s are master con birds. When they want to attract female attention, they actually send out fake copulative mating calls. Taken in, the females are attracted to this fraud artist, who gets to score over his rivals and collect a harem. Researchers have found that more than one third of the mating calls made were absolutely fake. However, the males do plan an active part in rearing the young.
9. When a male quivers the feathers of its tail, they send out low frequency sounds to attract female attention.
Outside the human hearing range, the sound frequency depends on how far the female is from the male. Such infrasonic sounds are also produced by elephants.
10. Peacock feathers are covered with small crystals that glitter and attract the attention of the opposite sex.
These crystal like structures reflect light and bring about the fluorescent look to the feathers. Butterflies and humming birds use the same method to get noticed.
11. To save themselves from predators, these birds stay put on trees, sometimes for days.
Mongoose, tigers, cats, wolves and other carnivores in the wild do prey on peacocks.
12. Like most birds, peacocks are also omnivores.
Peacocks are omnivores. They are happy eating insects, flowers, seeds and small rodents and lizards.
13. When it comes to choosing a mate, the peahen is the boss
The male is definitely the prettier one, but when it comes to choosing a mate, the female reserves the right to reject a suitor to mate with. Features like length, color and tail feathers are considered when accepting a mating call.
14. Peacocks are polygamous.
Unlike many birds which pair for life, peacocks are notoriously polygamous, fiercely protecting a harem of two to five peahens.
15. Peacocks are not solitary birds
They do get very lonely and sad, when kept alone. They even let out unpleasant sounds to express their grief and anguish.
16. Peacocks are sacred birds for Hindus.
Peacocks have been considered as sacred birds by Hindus. The bird is associated with Kartikeya, known as Lord Murugan in South India. Worshiped as a god of war, Kartikeya in Hindu gods genealogy is the son of Lord Shiva. A peacock is the mount of Kartikeya.
17. Tigers and lions hate this bird for they are normally the first ones the break the news that the cats are on the prowl.
Their call is also one of the loudest and it warns the jungle about the impending dangers.