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
The female is called ‘peahen’, and the babies ‘pea chicks’. Males are usually larger than the females and have longer tails.
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.
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.
Interestingly, peacocks take on a fresh feather set each year after the old one is discarded. A male peacock can live for 20 years.
These large birds with massive tails, when in flight, look like an passing rainbow. But they cannot fly very long distances.
A gene mutation causes peacocks to lose their pigmentation which turns them into while peafowls.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Mongoose, tigers, cats, wolves and other carnivores in the wild do prey on peacocks.
Peacocks are omnivores. They are happy eating insects, flowers, seeds and small rodents and lizards.
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.
Unlike many birds which pair for life, peacocks are notoriously polygamous, fiercely protecting a harem of two to five peahens.
They do get very lonely and sad, when kept alone. They even let out unpleasant sounds to express their grief and anguish.
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.
Their call is also one of the loudest and it warns the jungle about the impending dangers.