Peacock



‘Proud as a Peacock’ is a term that’s commonplace in India, a tribute to the most beautiful bird of the feathered kind. No wonder, it is the pride of our country and rightly earns its place as the National Bird. 
 
Probably the largest and most colorful Pheasant of the bird family, the peacock is synonymous with its iridescent tail feathers, which are almost 65 percent of its body length. When arched out into a gigantic fan by males of the species during the mating ritual dances to attract females, the magnificent spread is indeed a sight to behold an awesome dance show!

 Apparently, like all other females of all other species (including humans), the female chooses her mate based on the latter’s size, colour, number of ‘eyes’ on the plumage and quality of feathers!
 These birds also fly, albeit for short distances. It takes about three years for a male to grow its complete plumage and the more the number of ‘eyes’ on the tail, the better his chances of winning a suitor.

 There are three distinct varieties of these magnificent birds – the blue peacocks of India and Sri Lanka, the green peacocks of Java and Myanmar, and a little-known species, the Congo peacock of the African rain forests.

India is blessed with possibly the densest population of these wonderful birds in the wild. They are all over the place, and are often spotted in varied surroundings including forests, temples, villages, fields etc.
 
A peacock’s tail plumage comprises almost 150 feathers that culminate in an ‘eye’ (a design resembling the human eye) at the tip. These in fact, are extensions of the upper tail cover. The feathers on top are long and beautifully coloured, while those beneath that support them are really short.

 However, a peacock’s feathers are shed every year through a process called ‘moulting’, which happens immediately after the breeding season.
 A large array of colour pallets, the major ones being shades of bright blue and green, help create the magnificence of these amazing feathers. ‘Interference’, a physics phenomenon related to the properties of light, is the science behind these gleaming feathers.

 When light falls on the feathers, tiny crater-sized indentations on the feather (which actually comprise tiny tree- like branches) create a ripple of sorts of coloured spots, giving the whole plumage a magnificent radiance.

 

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