Indian Peafowl or Blue Peafowl (Pavo cristatus) - male or peacock - at animal rehabilitation center in Miami. Florida.
The Indian Peafowl or Blue Peafowl (Pavo cristatus) is a large and brightly coloured bird of the pheasant family native to South Asia, but introduced and semi-feral in many other parts of the world. The peacock (male) is predominantly blue with a fan-like crest of spatula-tipped wire-like feathers and is best known for the long train made up of elongated upper-tail covert feathers which bear colourful eyespots. These stiff and elongated feathers are raised into a fan and quivered in a display during courtship. The female lacks the train, has a greenish lower neck and has a duller brown plumage. They are found mainly on the ground in open forest or cultivation where they forage for berries, grains but will also prey on snakes, lizards, and small rodents. Their loud calls make them easy to detect, and in forest areas, often indicate the presence of a predator such as a tiger. They forage on the ground, moving in small groups and will usually try to escape on foot through undergrowth and avoid flying. They will fly up into tall trees to roost, however. It is a bird that is celebrated in Indian and even Greek mythology and is national bird of India. The male, known as a peacock, is a large bird with a length from bill to tail of 100 to 115 cm (40 to 46 inches) and to the end of a fully grown train as much as 195 to 225 cm (78 to 90 inches) and weigh 4–6 kg (8.8-13.2 lbs). The females, or peahens, are smaller at around 95 cm (38 inches) in length and weigh 2.75–4 kg (6-8.8 lbs). Their size, colour and shape of crest make them unmistakable within their native distribution range. The male is metallic blue on the crown, the feathers of the head being short and curled. The fan-shaped crest on the head is made of feathers with bare black shafts and tipped with blush-green webbing. A white stripe above the eye and a crescent shaped white patch below the eye are formed by bare white skin. The sides of the head have iridescent greenish blue feathers. The back has scaly bronze-green feathers with black and copper markings. The scapular and the wings are buff and barred in black, the primaries are chestnut and the secondaries are black. The tail is dark brown and the "train" is made up by elongated upper tail coverts (more than 200 feathers, the actual tail has only 20 feathers) and nearly all of these feathers end with an elaborate eye-spot. A few of the outer feathers lack the spot and end in a crescent shaped black tip. The underside is dark glossy green. The adult peahen has a rufous-brown head with a crest as in the male but the tips chestnut edged with green. The upper body is brownish with paler mottling. The primaries, secondaries and tail are dark brown. The lower neck is metallic green and the breast feathers are dark brown glossed with green. The rest of the underparts are whitish. Downy young are pale buff with a dark brown mark on the nape connecting with the eyes. Young males looks like the females but the wings are chestnut coloured. The Indian Peafowl is a resident breeder across the Indian subcontinent and is found in the drier lowland areas of Sri Lanka. In South Asia, it is found mainly below an altitude of 1800 m and in rare cases seen at about 2000m. It is found in moist and dry-deciduous forests, but can adapt to live in cultivated regions and around human habitations and is usually found where water is available. In many parts of northern India, they are protected by religious sentiment and will forage around villages and towns for scraps. Some have suggested that the peacock was introduced into Europe by Alexander the Great, while others suggest that the bird had reached Athens by 450 BC and may have been introduced even earlier. It has since been introduced in many other parts of the world and has become feral in some areas. Peafowl are best known for the male's extravagant display feathers which, despite actually growing from their back, are thought of as a tail. The "train" is in reality made up of the enormously elongated upper tail coverts. The tail itself is brown and short as in the peahen. The colours result not from any green or blue pigments but from the micro-structure of the feathers and the resulting optical phenomena. The long train feathers (and tarsal spurs) of the male develop only after the second year of life. Fully developed trains are found in birds older than four years. In northern India, these begin to develop each February and are moulted at the end of August. The moult of the flight feathers may be spread out across the year. The ornate train is believed to be the result of female sexual selection as males raise the feathers into a fan and quiver them as part of courtship display. Many studies have suggested that the quality of train is an honest signal of the condition of males and that peahens select males on the basis of their plumage. More recent studies however, suggest that other cues may be involved in mate selection by peahens. (credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_Peaf...)