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Indian Peafowl

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Scientific name: Pavo cristatus

Other common names: Common Peafowl; Peacock (male); Peahen (female)

The basics:
The male Indian Peafowl – known to one and all as the Peacock – is considered to be one of the most beautiful birds in the world. The national bird of India, this marvelous creature has collected endless legends around itself, including the story that Alexander the Great himself brought the Peacock to Europe. In ancient and medieval times, the bird starred in myths alongside the gods and goddesses of many cultures, while on earth the royal and the wealthy enjoyed them free-ranging on their estates – or, sometimes, roasted on their golden plates. Today, the Indian Peafowl is widely distributed in captivity, and the birds themselves are relatively inexpensive for the beauty they offer, although they will still require a good-sized property.

Appearance:
The Indian Peafowl is the classic bird that comes to mind when we hear the word “Peacock.” The male has a blue head, neck, and upper chest, distinguishing him at a glance from the Green Peacock. The magnificent train of green feathers, heavily spotted with the showy eyes, is the mark of the adult male, and he certainly knows it, since he will hop up and display by lifting and rattling those amazing feathers to catch the female's eye. She is really just a plain, well-camouflaged brownish bird with a white face. As with any bird with a long history of domestication, there is a large number of color mutations, including the truly magnificent white Indian Peafowl.

Average weight:
4.5 - 6 kilograms (10 - 13 lbs.)

Lifespan:
15 - 20 years

Health:
As with any bird that spends a lot of time on the ground, Indian Peafowl may be susceptible to worms. Get a referral to a good veterinarian who can advise you on the proper de-worming schedule to keep your birds healthy.

Behavior / temperament:
The Indian Peafowl is beautiful, tough, and relatively inexpensive to care for in comparison to the impact made by its appearance on an estate or in your collection. The mature Peacocks are bold, fanning the wonderful tail and shaking it to make it rattle, in case the females have not taken proper notice of his elegance. Peahens can be good mothers, brooding and raising their own young without the assistance of Bantam silkies or artificial incubators that may be required by many other ornamental birds. They can certainly be a little aggressive, and males in particular may be somewhat aggressive toward a keeper and they may even charge at a small child, but it isn't anything that a little common sense can't take care of.

Why, then, don't we all have Indian Peafowl? Quite simply, it's the voice. They are loud, and the cry is not pleasant. If you are sensitive to noise or don't have a large enough property to keep your neighbors from hearing the noise up close and personal, you are not going to enjoy your Indian Peafowl. Make sure you are living in an area where the noise will not be a problem, before you acquire your birds.

Housing:
On a very large property, it is sometimes possible to allow the Indian Peafowl to free-range. Talk to your supplier about what you should do to properly train your birds to return to their shelter each night. Although there aren't many predators that are enthusiastic about facing down a mature adult Peafowl, the youngsters are both tasty and somewhat vulnerable, and some people advise keeping the Peahen and her young family penned during the nesting season. You will also need to set up pairs or trios in pens if you are interested in breeding for color mutations, so that you can control who mates with who. These pens must be extremely generous, to allow the Peacock plenty of room to display his tail during the courtship dance and also to prevent nervous picking or aggression. It would be a foolish economy to skimp on the size of the pen and thereby risk destroying the beauty of the tail, the entire purpose of keeping the species.

Diet:
The Indian Peafowl is an omnivorous bird that isn't particularly difficult to feed. The United Peafowl Association notes that a balanced diet will continue a wide variety of items, including “shelled corn, cracked corn, oats, rabbit pellets, dog food, trout chow, sunflower seed, grass, dandelions, insects, and many other foods.” A good game bird pellet or crumble should be provided, and make sure the hens have access to a laying mix during the breeding season. Clean water should always be available.

Written by Elaine Radford

wonderful

majestic, great personalities, beautiful display, regal elegance, brilliant plumage

challenging

predators foxes, intensive management, LOUD Peacocks, eye problems, vocal, hauntingly irritating noise

interesting

GREEN Varieties, free range, estate birds, breeding season, big birds, possible peafowl varieties

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