Pavo Linnaeus, 1758
* Systema Naturae ed.10 p.156
The term peafowl can refer to the two species of bird in the genus Pavo of the pheasant family, Phasianidae. The African Congo Peafowl is placed in its own genus Afropavo and is not dealt with here. Peafowl are best known for the male's extravagant tail, which it displays as part of courtship. The male is called a peacock, and the female a peahen. The female peafowl is brown or toned grey and brown.
The two species are:
* Indian Peafowl, Pavo cristatus, a resident breeder in the Indian subcontinent. The peacock is designated as the national bird of India and the provincial bird of the Punjab (India).
The male (peacock) Indian Peafowl has iridescent blue-green or green colored plumage. The peacock tail ("train") is not the tail quill feathers but the highly elongated upper tail coverts. The "eyes" are best seen when the peacock fans its tail. Both species have a crest atop the head. The female (peahen) Indian Peafowl has a mixture of dull green, brown, and grey in her plumage. She lacks the long upper tail coverts of the male but has a crest. The female can also display her plumage to ward off female competition or signal danger to her young.
The Green Peafowl appears different from the Indian Peafowl. The male has green and gold plumage and has an erect crest. The wings are black with a sheen of blue. Unlike the Indian Peafowl, the Green Peahen is similar to the male, only having shorter upper tail coverts and less iridescence. It is hard to tell a juvenile male from an adult female.
As with many birds, vibrant plumage colours are not primarily pigments, but optical interference Bragg reflections, based on regular, periodic nanostructures of the barbules (fiber-like components) of the feathers. Slight changes to the spacing result in different colours. Brown feathers are a mixture of red and blue: one colour is created by the periodic structure, and the other is a created by a Fabry–Pérot interference peak from reflections from the outer and inner boundaries. Such interference-based structural colour is important for the peacock's iridescent hues that change and shimmer with viewing angle, since unlike pigments, interference effects depend on light angle.
Colour mutations exist through selective breeding, such as the leucistic White Peafowl and the Black-Shouldered Peafowl.
The peafowl are forest birds that nest on the ground but roost in trees. They are terrestrial feeders.
Both species of Peafowl are believed to be polygamous. However, it has been suggested that "females" entering a male Green Peafowl's territory are really his own juvenile or sub-adult young (K. B. Woods in lit. 2000) and that Green Peafowl are really monogamous in the wild. The male peacock flares out its feathers when it is trying to get the female's attention.
During the mating season they will often emit a very loud high pitched cry.
Peafowl are omnivorous and eat most plant parts, flower petals, seed heads, insects and other arthropods, reptiles, and amphibians.
In common with other members of the Galliformes, males possess metatarsal spurs or "thorns" used primarily during intraspecific fights.
Peafowl have left captivity and developed permanent, free-roaming populations in several parts of the world including India.
In Greco-Roman mythology the Peacock is identified with the goddess Hera (Juno), who is symbolized by the peacock. The eyes upon the peacock's tail comes from Argus whose hundred eyes were placed upon the peacock's feathers by the goddess in memory of his role as the guard of Io, a lover of Zeus that Hera had punished. The eyes are said to symbolize the vault of heaven and the "eyes" of the stars.
In Hinduism, the Peacock is associated with Lakshmi who is a deity representing benevolence, patience, kindness, compassion and good luck. Similar to Lakshmi, the Peacock is associated with Kwan-yin in Asian spirituality. Kwan-yin (or Quan Yin) is also an emblem of love, compassionate watchfulness, good-will, nurturing, and kind-heartedness. Legend tells us she chose to remain a mortal even though she could be immortal because she wished to stay behind and aid humanity in their spiritual evolution.
In Babylonia and Persia the Peacock is seen as a guardian to royalty, and is often seen in engravings upon the thrones of royalty.
In Christianity, the peacock is an ancient symbol of eternal life. The Peacock symbolism represents the "all-seeing" church, along with the holiness and sanctity associated with it. Additionally, the Peacock represents resurrection, renewal and immortality within the spiritual teachings of Christianity. Themes of renewal are also linked to alchemical traditions to, as many schools of thought compare the resurrecting phoenix to the modern-day Peacock.
In 1956, John J. Graham created an abstraction of an eleven-feathered peacock logo to indicate richness in color. This brightly hued peacock was adopted due to the increase in color programming. NBC's first color broadcasts showed only a still frame of the colorful peacock. The emblem made its first on-air appearance on May 22, 1956. The current NBC logo that debuted in 1986 has six feathers (yellow, orange, red, purple, blue, green). Stylized male peacock with full plumage is used as a logo for Pakistan Television Corporation.
1. ^ peacock - Britannica Online Encyclopedia
Source: Wikipedia, Wikispecies: All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License