110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
Nature Scenes: Peahens aren’t as flashy as peacocks
By Lynn Bowen
posted Aug 18, 2014 - 10:38:53am
The cute chick was the size of an adult’s hand. The fuzzy, golden-yellow baby strutted around in a large cage at the Pioneer Settlement in Barberville. Its mother was one of the three female indigo peahens in the cage. A lone male indigo peacock with his trademark glossy blue plumage was in the next cage.
Female peafowls are peahens, and their chicks are peachicks. The male peafowl, called a peacock, is the most beautiful bird in his family because of his long gorgeous train of indigo-blue feathers ornamented with a design that looks like colorful eyes.
Just as a bride may have a gown with a long train of material behind her, either dragging on the ground or being carried by someone, the peacock has a train. But the gorgeous feathers above his tail drag on the ground unless he makes a spectacular fan upward and outward to attract attention.
A peacock’s train is about 5 feet long, and his body is about 4 feet long! It takes three years for the peacock to mature and another three years to develop a full train. The male weighs 8-13 pounds, and has a tiara of feathers on his head. No wonder he struts so proudly – he knows he’s very handsome!
The peahen, who weighs 6-8 pounds and is about 3 feet long, is a drab tan, yet still beautiful. She has emerald-green feathers around her neck. The peahen doesn’t have a train but does have a tiara. Nature has arranged for her to not be flashy so that she can camouflage when nesting time comes. Quite interesting is the fact that she actually chooses her mate based on which male has the most eyespots on his train!
To make a nest, the peahen scrapes a hole in the ground under a shrub or in a thicket, and lines it with leaves and twigs. She lays three to 12 eggs, which she alone incubates for a month. The peahen leaves the nest just long enough to get food for herself and later for the chicks when they have hatched. She even raises them solo. The male is not in the picture after breeding time! He’s a busy guy, since he often has a harem of several females.
India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are the countries of origin for the indigo peafowls. Their diet is mainly insects, plants, and other small creatures.
Peafowls can live up to 20 years! Fifteen years ago in Volusia County, it was not unusual to see them in the countryside, but it’s not so common now.
— Bowen lives in DeLand. Send email to her at email@example.com.
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