The Peacock, a Symbol of Good Fortune
They’re gigantic, they’re colorful, and they can be found in just about every zoo in existence. Peacocks are one of the more recognizable and truly beautiful birds that we’ve been lucky enough to share a planet with! Their large, fanned out feathers are nothing short of mesmerizing, so much so that they’re often used to make a statement in the fashion world.
Male Peacocks Strut Their Stuff for the Ladies!
Not all peacocks are created equal, and males get the most when it comes to their plumage. Females are actually referred to as “peahens,” and they aren’t nearly as interesting to look at as their counterparts. Typically, peahens are a light brown color and have a short tail that doesn’t expand the way it would for a male.
These birds are polygamous, a dominant male will have the opportunity to mate with as many peahens as they desire. However, this can be problematic at times as females will compete with one another in the hopes of mating with their peacock. Sometimes an overzealous peahen will attempt to mate with the peacock they’re most attracted to repeatedly as a way of discouraging other female competitors.
Is It Real? Or an Optical Illusion?
As it turns out, peacocks are not actually as colorful as they appear to be to the naked human eye. When viewed on a smaller scale, their feathers are more of light brown color with hints of reflective pigment that shines in the sunlight. To us, their plumes are a beautiful mixture of turquoise, gold, red, teal, and blue.
Where an elephant may be attacked and killed by poachers for the tusks, the peacock doesn’t have to endure that struggle. Their feathers shed naturally and are collected and sold as accessories and gifts.
Houston, We’re Ready for Lift Off!
It's a common misconception that these large birds can’t fly, which is not surprising considering that they appear to be larger than they actually are. Adult peacocks only weight about 6 pounds, while peahens are closer to the 2 to 3 pound range. They aren’t able to travel for miles and miles without stopping the way smaller birds are, and they have to get a running start before they’re able to take off. The peacock tail is certainly a beautiful thing to look at, but it is one of the primary reasons, aside from their size, that they’re unable to fly long distance.
Self Defense Isn’t Really Their Strong Suit
As it turns out, the Peacock’s inability to fly long distances coupled with their large size and flamboyant appearance makes it pretty difficult to stay away from predators. This is especially true when you’re being hunted by Burmese tigers, leopards, and other large jungle cats that are able to quickly pick up speed. Since the peacock has to take a few steps before they’re able to reach the air, this gives a tiger just enough time to reach up and grab the bird before they can get away. Imagine playing a game of hide and go seek with a giant neon sign attached to your body, you’d lose every time!
That being said, peacocks actually do live quite a bit longer in the wild than they do in captivity.
Peacocks Enjoy a Well Balanced Meal
Being omnivorous, these birds don’t really have much of preference; they’ll eat anything from berries to snakes, even the venomous ones. How are they able to do this? Well, there’s a big difference between being bitten by a snake and consuming one. When ingested, the poison from a snake’s fangs is broken down into amino acids. This way the peacock is able to safely digest the venom.
However, if the peacock is bitten and venom enters their bloodstream, they will most likely succumb to the injury.
Leaving the Nest
Baby peacocks, or chicks, have to grow up rather quickly once they’ve made their exit from the egg and their entrance into the world. As youngsters, they won’t have a large fan of feathers, which is probably best since they need to remain hidden from predators until they’ve come of age. At only 3 to 4 pounds when hatched, the chicks will receive care primarily from their mother, with little to no involvement from the father.
Unlike smaller birds, peacock babies are born with the ability to fly in small spurts. This way, they’re able to move through trees and roost high up in case something happens to their original nest. Once they’ve reached a year old, peacocks are technically considered “mature,” but they won’t be ready to start looking for a mate until the age of 3.
Beloved Bird of India
Not only is the peacock the national bird of India, but it is also considered sacred and religiously protected. They are so honored in fact, that they are ranked higher on the scale of preservation of the tiger and elephant! Although they don’t need to be killed for their feathers, there are groups of smugglers who simply wish to make a profit regardless.
However, poachers aren’t only going after peacock plumage; there is a widely superstitious belief that these birds contain special powers. There are still quite a few people who maintain the idea that the savory meat and fat of a peacock will heal their ailments and relieve them of serious forms of disease and illness. While this isn’t true, there are parts of the world that enjoy peacock meat as a delicacy.
Roosters Aren’t the Only Birds That Cocka-Doodle-Doo
The problem with exotic pets is that people don’t realize how much work goes into owning one! Peacocks are social creatures, so if you get one you’ll have to get a partner for them as well. It’s also important to remember that these birds are loud, and they love to raise the alarm quite early in the morning.
Even if you live on a few acres, the shrill cry of the peacock can still be heard from a distance. If you do decide to get one, just make sure that your neighbors don’t mind.
Don’t let these words of caution deter you, take a chance at raising a peacock if you have a passion for it!