Have you seen the peacock and peahens closely? Yes, I had seen them many times when I was a child. Now, it also has become rare to me. I have never seen them in the USA. My cousin Binu and I often chased them but never had a chance to touch them. They are beautiful but not very friendly with humans, which I don’t blame them for. Someone has gifted me a feather of this bird for decoration, so suddenly it came into my mind writing about this beautiful species.
Peacock is not only the National bird of Indian country but also is a prohibited bird. According to the Indian Forest Conservation Act, hunting or killing them is a punishable crime. According to the Indian Forest Act of 1972, hunting or killing the National Bird Peacock is liable to the punishment of 5 years imprisonment and the penalty of Rs. 50,000/-. However, does this rule apply to everybody? No, power and money buy the rules and regulations; thus, those regulations are only for the general public.
I saw the deer closely the first time I had killed him accidentally during a snowstorm. Like the deer, I had watched the peacock closely when he died. My uncle was a retired brigadier of the Indian army. His only son followed his father’s steps and joined the army. He often came to the town for a few days to visit his parents. Like me, he loved the valley because he was posted there for a long time. One summer, he visited back in town. It was cloudy and was ready to rain soon. We were sitting in Varanda, and suddenly a group of peacocks came over the roof of our barn.
My cousin shot this beautiful bird with one bullet, and the next thing, we saw the dead bird in front of us. My cousin had faced his father’s anger, but nobody had taken illegal action against him. He neither paid the Rs 50 000 fine nor spent five years in prison. Later on, he retired as Lt General and permanently resided in Himachal Pradesh.
You can differentiate female (peahens) and male (peacocks) easily from their size and tails. Peacocks are larger birds with a length of 100-110 cm, but they also have a colorful train and their body length. A full-grown peacock can have a total length of 195-225 cm, including both body and tail. However, the peahens are smaller compared to the peacocks. Their size is only 95 cm. Peacock has a metallic blue crown with short, curled blue and green hair.
They make different sounds such as loud pia-ow or may-awe, which frequently sound loudly before the rain. They are more active before the monsoon. They also make many other calls, such as a rapid ka-aan..ka-aan or rapid Kok-Kok. They often make an explosive low-pitched honk when they are agitated.
The ornate train is believed to be the result of sexual selection by the females. Males use their ornate trains in a courtship display: they raise the feathers into fans and quiver them. However, recent studies show no evidence to find a relation between the number of displayed eyespots and mating success. Peacocks are polygamous, and the breeding season is spread out, but it appears to be dependent on the rains. They reach sexual maturity at 2 to 3 years old.
Peafowl is omnivorous and eats seeds, insects, fruits, small mammals, and reptiles. They feed on small snakes but keep their distance from larger ones.
Adult peafowl can usually escape ground predators by flying into trees. Large animals such as leopards, dholes, wolves, lions, and tigers can sometimes ambush them. Foraging in groups provides some safety as there are more eyes to look out for predators.
Well, India is a country of different cultures and faiths. In India, surprisingly and somehow, everything, including person, place, nature, birds, and animals, connects to the culture and faiths, so how those beautiful birds could save themselves. In Buddhist philosophy, the peacock represents wisdom. Many Hindu deities are associated with this bird. Krishna is often depicted with a feather in his headband, while worshippers of Shiva associate the bird as the steed of the God of war. A story in the Uttara Ramayana describes the head of the Devas, Indra, who is unable to defeat Ravana, sheltered under the wing of the peacock, and Indra, who is blessed with fear and a thousand eyes. There is another story about Indra, who was transformed into a peacock with a thousand eyes after being cursed with a thousand ulcers. Only God knows the reality.
In captivity, birds have been known to live for 23 years but it is estimated that they only live for about 15 years in the wild. well, humans are great predators of nature, animals, and birds, so soon these species will also be in the story book or in the films just like dinosaurs.