Birds of Morni: Indian Peafowl

December 6, 2011

Indian Peafowl/Mor (Pavo cristatus)- is a large brightly coloured bird of the pheasant family. It is the national bird of India. The cock can have a bill to tail feather length of over 7 feet and can weigh over 5 kg. The gorgeous cock is predominantly velvety blue (crown, neck and chest) with striking elongated upper-tail covert feathers that are raised to form a stiff Chinese palm fan that is quivered in a display during courtship. The glossy feathers have colourful eye spots and are sold at traffic cross-sections for home decoration. The feathers are believed to scare-off the geckos! The cock has a fan shaped crest formed by bare shaft like feathers with a spot of bluish fluff at the top. White strips above and below the eye make the eye prominent. The back has scaly green brown feathers with black and copper markings. The hen lacks the long ornamental tail feathers and has a greenish lower neck and a dull brown plumage.  The cock has spurs above the hind toe.

Peafowl is predominantly found in droves in dry-deciduous forests in the neighbourhood of rivers and streams and  can be seen foraging on the ground for berries, grains etc. The bird also preys on snakes, lizards, and small rodents.  The bird is shy and alert and disappears into the scrub at the slightest provocation. It rarely flies unless it needs to cross a ravine etc. It roosts in tall trees. The loud and harsh screams can be heard at a great distance and often act as alarm calls to indicate the presence of a predator such as a tiger or leopard. The calls are heard more frequently before the monsoon. It nests on the ground in shallow hollows in dense thickets. The bird is polygamous and the cock can be seen strutting with several hens.

The peafowl has been treated as sacred by the Indians. Numerous accounts by British hunters mention the special religious sentiment for the peafowl amongst the locals. A peacock feather adorns the head of Lord Krishna signifying the seven colours of the universe. The peafowl has thus been less threatened than the other colourful pheasants like the jungle fowl which has been mercilessly hunted in the Morni hills. The peafowls can be invariably spotted on the dry rocky bed of the seasonal rivulet at Berwala on the road to Morni.

Peafowl at Berwala

Pea-Fowl, Bir Shikargarh WLS

Dancing Pea-fowl

Dancing Pea-fowl

 

Pea-fowl, Bir Shikargarh, Morni-Pinjore (Photo courtesy: Rajesh Pandey)

Peafowl on Parwala-Tikkar tal road, Morni hills

Peafowl on Parwala-Tikkar tal road, Morni hills

Filed in: Birds

About the Author ()

An environmental enthusiast who loves tramping through the hills in search of the picturesque.

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