Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Peacock

Know the PeacockPeacocks, commonly called peafowl (peacock refers to the male), are large pheasants, family Phasianidae, of the Indian-Asian region. They are found in dry forests, mostly in small groups containing of one male and several females. Peafowl rarely fly; instead, they run from danger. True peafowl include the blue peacock, Pavo cristatus, of India and Sri Lanka, and the green peacock, P. muticus, of Burma and Indochina. A rare and aberrant form, the Congo peacock, Afropavo congensis, is found only in forests of the Congo basin in Africa.

Mythological Significance
The peafowl is prominent in the mythology and folklore of the Indian people. The Hindus consider the bird to be sacred because the god Kartikeya (son of the Lord Shiva and Parvati and brother to the god Ganesh) rides on its back. Legends hold that the peafowl can charm snakes and addle their eggs. Peacock always accompanies the images of Lord Krishna. And the beautiful peacock feather is also part of Lord Krishna's crown.

The peacock finds reference in the Greek myth, in the bible, and was known to the pharaoh of Egypt and to the 14th century Europe, where it was roasted and served to in its own plumage.

Physical Features
The male Indian Peafowl, commonly known as the peacock, is one of the most recognisable birds in the world. These large, brightly colored birds have a distinctive crest and an unmistakable ornamental train. The train (1.4-1.6 meters in length) accounts for more than 60% of their total body length (2.3 meters). Combined with a large wingspan (1.4-1.6 meters), this train makes the male peafowl one of the largest flying birds in the world. The train is formed by 100-150 highly specialized uppertail-coverts. Each of these feathers sports an ornamental ocellus, or eye-spot, and has long disintegrated barbs, giving the feathers a loose, fluffy look. When displaying to a female, the peacock erects this train into a spectacular fan, presenting the ocelli to their best advantage.

The more subtly coloured female Peafowl is mostly brown above with a white belly. Her ornamentation is limited to a prominent crest and green neck feathers. Though females (2.75-4.0 kg) weigh nearly as much as the males (4.0-6.0 kg), they rarely exceed 1.0 meter in total body length.

Social Characteristics
Peacock or peafowl Large bird belonging to the pheasant family, in East Asia being its native region. The crested common peacock during courtship displays his elongated upper tail which converts into a magnificent green and gold erectile train adorned with green blue " eyes " before the duller plumaged peahen. The peacock is a ornamental bird and is of quarrelsome nature and does not mix well with other domestic animals.

Habitat & Diet
They are omnivorous, obtaining most of their food by scratching the leaf litter with their strong feet. Indian Peafowl do most of their foraging in the early morning and shortly before sunset. They retreat to the shade and security of the forest for the hottest portion of the day. Foods include grains, insects, small reptiles, small mammals, berries, drupes, wild figs, and some cultivated crops.

Key Factors
Family : Phasianidae
Eating Habit : Omnivorous
Blue Peacock : Pavo cristatus (found in India and Sri Lanka)
Green Peacock : P. muticus (found in Burma and Indochina)
Congo Peacock : Afropavo congensis (found in the Congo basin in Africa)
Major Sites : Indus river, Jammu and Kashmir, east
Assam, south Mizoram and the whole of the Indian peninsula.

National Bird of India
The Indian peacock, Pavo cristatus (Linnaeus), the national bird of India, is a colourful, swan-sized bird, with a fan-shaped crest of feathers, a white patch under the eye and a long, slender neck.

Major Sites
The Indian Peafowl occurs from eastern Pakistan through India, south from the Himalayas to Sri Lanka. Though once common in Bangladesh, it may now be extinct in that country. In its native India, the peafowl is a creature of the open forests and riparian undergrowth. In southern India, it also prefers stream-side forests but may also be found in orchards and other cultivated areas.

Peacock & Conservation
The peacock is widely found in the Indian sub-continent from the south and east of the Indus river, Jammu and Kashmir, east Assam, south Mizoram and the whole of the Indian peninsula. The peacock enjoys immense protection. It is fully protected under the Indian Wildlife Protection) Act, 1972.

This long and close association with humans has proven the peafowl’s adaptability to human-altered landscapes. This species does not appear to need any additional legal protection or conservation attention.