The monsoon seems to be playing peek-a-boo with the city but that does not prevent nature from rejoicing. As dark clouds loom threateningly over the city skies, all one can hear is the shrill cry of the peacocks and if one is lucky, you can also catch them displaying their fans. Learn more about these elusive birds
Myth & Legends
The peacock is considered to be a bird of protection and safe guarding. This bird is also valued as a protection for the psychic self. There is a lore that having a peacock feather within the home helps to safe guard the home against negative energy.
In Hinduism, when the god Indra transforms himself into an animal, he becomes a peacock.
In Java, the peacock was associated with the Devil. In Mosul in northern Iraq, there is a sect of Yezidis who hold that the Devil is not evil, and call him the Peacock Angel.
Myth has it that the peacock represents fidelity, as it dies of grief, or remains single, if it loses its mate.
It hates gold and will not go near it.
Peacock is also is said to be able to foretell rain, and dances when rain is coming.
Finding a peacock feather — Good luck, harmony, serenity, peace of mind, relaxation and protection are all associated with the magnificent peacock. But there are people who consider the peacock unlucky It is thought very unlucky to have the feathers of the bird within the home or handle anything made with them. This is possibly because of the eye shape present upon these feathers i.e. the Evil-Eye associated with wickedness.
Types of peacocks
The most recognisable peacock species, the Indian peacock is native to India, Sri Lanka and other parts of eastern Asia. The peacocks of this species display the famous tail plumage used in courting rituals and have bright, blue heads and crest colourings. The bright colouring and large tail feathers are used to attract peahens and size up against other peacocks. Indian peahens are a muted brown colour with green or blue heads and smaller tail sections that serve as camouflage when caring for peachicks under bushes or foliage.
The Green peacock, also known as the Javanese peacock, is native to the Indonesian island of Java in south east Asia. Green peacocks are similar to Indian peacocks in that they have large, brightly coloured trains and use the feathers in courting rituals. The heads and crests of green peacocks are a deep green colour rather than blue, making them distinguishable from Indian peacocks. Green peahens are also brightly coloured with green hues that are only slightly more muted than their male counterparts, however, like Indian peahens, the green variety does not have a long train of tail feathers.
White coloured peacock
Through selective breeding and mutations, peacocks exist outside of the normal realm of Indian and green peacock colours. The white peacock is not an albino, but rather a product of leucism (dimming of skin and feather pigments) and is entirely white from crest to train. Other breeding variations have created peacocks that are black, brown, yellow and purple and are all simple variations or mutations from standard green or Indian peacocks.
A relatively recent discovery, the Congo peacock is an African native that more closely resembles typical pheasants than their flashy peacock brethren. Absent of elongated, brightly coloured trains and the blue colour, the males are of a small stature compared to other species. The peahens of the Congo are dappled green and brown, resembling young versions of green or Indian peacocks. Though not much is known about the endangered Congo peafowl, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums has set up a programme to help preserve and maintain their habitat and populations.
Peacocks in popular culture
- NBC has the peacock as its logo
- India’s national bird is the peacock
- The Sri Lankan airlines logo is a stylised peacock.
- A constellation is named after the bird and so are butterflies.
- Peacocks have an average lifespan of 20 years in the wild but have been known to live as long as 40 years when domesticated.
- Only a peacock (male) has a colourful train.
- It is believed that a peahen choose its mates according to the size, colour, and quality of their trains.
Although peacocks are large, powerful birds, they are somewhat weak flyers and spend much of their time on the ground looking for food or perching. Peafowl feed on many different types of food including both plants and small animals. They seem to be especially fond of snakes, even poisonous ones! Peafowl will fly for short distances, especially to escape danger, and also to roost in treetops at night. They often warn each other when danger approaches by loud shrieking cries and honks. Peafowls also call during the mating season to attract members of the opposite sex. The peacock spreads its fan of tail feathers and then struts and displays himself to potential mates.
Tame peacocks can be found all over the world! The Congo peafowl is found in parts of Central America. Also the peacock lives in Burma, Thailand, Indo-China, Malaya, and Java. The Annametic dragon bird (green peacocks) live in the broadleaf evergreen forests of Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, and Southern Yunnan China.
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 colour.
Scientific name: Pavo cristatus
Size: Body, 35 to 50 in (90 to 130 cm); Tail, 5 ft (1.5 m)
Weight: 8.75 to 13 lbs (4 to 6 kg)
Group name: Party
Did you know?
A male peafowl is one of the largest flying birds when the combined length of its train and its large wingspan are considered.