Peacock – National Bird of India
Peacock-Scientific name: Pavo cristatus.
Introduction: The peacock is one of the moist beautiful birds of this earth. It is the national bird of India. It has received this recognition because of its long association with Indian life, culture and civilization and its beauty and usefulness.
From time immemorial it has found a place in our literature, sculpture, painting and engravings. Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan fashioned his famous throne in the form of a peacock.
Types: There are two varieties of peacock, viz. the Indian and the Burmese. The main difference between the two types is that the Indian peacock has a tuft of short feathers on its head to form a half-moon shaped crest, while the Burmese bird has a pointed crest.
Habitat: Peacock is a hardly bird. It has unique adaptability to extreme climatic conditions. Thus, it can live in the hot, dry desert region of Rajasthan as well as it can adjust nicely with colder climates of Europe and America. Generally, peacock likes to live in the bushes or jungles near a permanent water source. At night it sleeps quietly on the lower branches of tall trees.
Habit and nature: Peacocks are timid and shy creature. In nature they live in groups. Usually in a flock, five to six peahens, one peacock and several chicks are found. They cannot fly much but can run fast on their strong legs. Their wings are not strong enough for flying. So they prefer walking to flying.
The call of the peacock is harsh and shrill. It is generally very alert and intelligent in nature. So, at the sight of any danger they crow loudly in a shrill voice to alert other birds. One can hear peacock calling in the morning and evening, especially on a cloudy day.
During a cloudy and rainy day, peacocks unfold their decorative plumes and dance joyfully, which is a most delightful and rare sight.
The peahen (female) compared to the peacock is dull looking and smaller in size; peahen has no plume. The peahen lays 3-5 eggs at a time in a hole of the trunk of a tree or in a bush. They sometimes dig small holes in the soil with their legs to lay eggs. The color of the egg is white. It takes twenty six to twenty eight days to hatch.
The average longevity of a peacock is 20-25 years.
Physical characteristics and features: A peacock can be easily identified by the following characteristics:
It looks like a cock, but much larger than a cock.
It has a small head with a crest on the top of the head.
It has a long neck which is bright indigo in color.
It has about 200 long, beautiful, decorative plumes, each containing an oval-shaped eye-spot with copper color centre.
Importance: Peacock’s beautiful feathers and plumes are used for decoration and in many cottage industries for various fancy items. The healing quality of peacock’s feather has been mentioned in ancient Indian and Sri Lankan medical literature.