Play media Video analysis of the mechanisms behind the display The Indian peacock has iridescent blue and green plumage, mostly metallic blue and green. But the green peacock has green and bronze body feathers. In both species females are as big as males but lack the train and the head ornament. These feathers are marked with eyespots, best seen when a peacock fans his tail.
Both sexes of all species have a crest atop the head. The Indian peahen has a mixture of dull grey, brown, and green in her plumage. The female also displays her plumage to ward off female competition or signal danger to her young. The green peafowl differs from the Indian peafowl in that the male has green and gold plumage and black wings with a sheen of blue. Unlike the Indian peafowl, the green peahen is similar to the male, only having shorter upper tail coverts, a more coppery neck, and overall less iridescence.
The Congo peacock male does not display his covert feathers, but uses his actual tail feathers during courtship displays.
These feathers are much shorter than those of the Indian and green species, and the ocelli are much less pronounced. Chicks of both sexes in all the species are cryptically coloured. They vary between yellow and tawny, usually with patches of darker brown or light tan and "dirty white" ivory.
Occasionally, peafowl appear with white plumage. Although albino peafowl do exist, this is quite rare, and almost all white peafowl are not, in fact, albinos; they have a different condition called leucism , which causes an overall reduction in different types of pigment.
This can result in the complete lack of coloration of their plumage, while preserving normal eye colour. By contrast, true albino peafowl have a complete lack of melanin , resulting in the albino's characteristic red or pink eyes.
Leucistic peachicks are born yellow and become fully white as they mature. Iridescence and Structural coloration As with many birds, vibrant iridescent plumage colours are not primarily pigments , but structural colouration.
Optical interference Bragg reflections based on regular, periodic nanostructures of the barbules fiber-like components of the feathers produce the peacock's colours.
Slight changes to the spacing of these barbules result in different colours. Brown feathers are a mixture of red and blue: Such structural coloration causes the iridescence of the peacock's hues. Interference effects depend on light angle rather than actual pigments.
The sexual struggle is of two kinds; in the one it is between individuals of the same sex, generally the males, in order to drive away or kill their rivals, the females remaining passive; whilst in the other, the struggle is likewise between the individuals of the same sex, in order to excite or charm those of the opposite sex, generally the females, which no longer remain passive, but select the more agreeable partners.
In general, eggs are bigger than sperm and females produce fewer gametes than males. This leads to eggs being a bigger investment, and therefore to females being choosy about the traits that will be passed on to her offspring by males.
The peahen's reproductive success and the likelihood of survival of her chicks is partly dependent on the genotype of the mate. Female choice[ edit ] Peacock seen from behind displaying to attract peahen in foreground Multiple hypotheses attempt to explain the evolution of female choice.
Some of these suggest direct benefits to females, such as protection, shelter, or nuptial gifts that sway the female's choice of mate. Another hypothesis is that females choose mates with good genes.
Males with more exaggerated secondary sexual characteristics, such as bigger, brighter peacock trains, tend to have better genes in the peahen's eyes.
Runaway selection also seeks to clarify the evolution of the peacock's train. In runaway sexual selection, linked genes in males and females code for sexually dimorphic traits in males, and preference for those traits in females. Another hypothesis is sensory bias, in which females have a preference for a trait in a non-mating context that becomes transferred to mating.
Multiple causality for the evolution of female choice is also possible. Work concerning female behaviour in many species of animals has sought to confirm Darwin's basic idea of female preference for males with certain characteristics as a major force in the evolution of species.
The peacock's train and iridescent plumage are perhaps the best-known example of traits believed to have arisen through sexual selection , though with some controversy. Marion Petrie tested whether or not these displays signalled a male's genetic quality by studying a feral population of peafowl in Whipsnade Wildlife Park in southern England. The number of eyespots in the train predicted a male's mating success. She was able to manipulate this success by cutting the eyespots off some of the males' tails: Males with fewer eyespots, and thus with lower mating success, suffered from greater predation.
Chicks fathered by more ornamented males weighed more than those fathered by less ornamented males, an attribute generally associated with better survival rate in birds. These chicks were released into the park and recaptured one year later. Those with heavily ornamented feathers were better able to avoid predators and survive in natural conditions. A peacock in flight: Zahavi argued that the long train would be a handicap Furthermore, peafowl and their sexual characteristics have been used in the discussion of the causes for sexual traits.
Amotz Zahavi used the excessive tail plumes of male peafowls as evidence for his " Handicap Principle ".
Thus, a brilliant train serves as an honest indicator for females that these highly ornamented males are good at surviving for other reasons, and are therefore preferable mates. In contrast to Petrie's findings, a seven-year Japanese study of free-ranging peafowl concluded that female peafowl do not select mates solely on the basis of their trains. Mariko Takahashi found no evidence that peahens preferred peacocks with more elaborate trains such as with more eyespots , a more symmetrical arrangement, or a greater length.
Adeline Loyau and her colleagues responded that alternative and possibly central explanations for these results had been overlooked. Food courtship theory[ edit ] Merle Jacobs' food-courtship theory states that peahens are attracted to peacocks for the resemblance of their eye spots to blue berries. The angle at which the ocelli are displayed during courtship is more important in a peahen's choice of males than train size or number of ocelli.
The lower train is usually evaluated during close-up courtship, while the upper train is more of a long-distance attraction signal. Actions such as train rattling and wing shaking also kept the peahens' attention. The redundant signal hypothesis explains that whilst each signal that a male projects is about the same quality, the addition of multiple signals enhances the reliability of that mate.
This idea also suggests that the success of multiple signalling is not only due to the repetitiveness of the signal, but also of multiple receivers of the signal. In the peacock species, males congregate a communal display during breeding season and the peahens observe. Peacocks first defend their territory through intra-sexual behaviour, defending their areas from intruders. They fight for areas within the congregation to display a strong front for the peahens.
Central positions are usually taken by older, dominant males, which influences mating success. Certain morphological and behavioural traits come in to play during inter and intra-sexual selection, which include train length for territory acquisition and visual and vocal displays involved in mate choice by peahens.
In courtship, vocalisation stands to be a primary way for peacocks to attract peahens. Some studies suggest that the intricacy of the "song" produced by displaying peacocks proved to be impressive to peafowl. Singing in peacocks usually occurs just before, just after, or sometimes during copulation.
Peafowl are forest birds that nest on the ground, but roost in trees. They are terrestrial feeders. All species of peafowl are believed to be polygamous. In common with other members of the Galliformes , the males possess metatarsal spurs or "thorns" on their legs used during intraspecific territorial fights with other members of their kind.
Diet[ edit ] Peafowl are omnivores and eat mostly plant parts, flower petals, seed heads, insects and other arthropods , reptiles , and amphibians.
Wild peafowl look for their food scratching around in leaf litter either early in the morning or at dusk. They retreat to the shade and security of the woods for the hottest portion of the day. These birds are not picky and will eat almost anything they can fit in their beak and digest. They actively hunt insects like ants, crickets and termites; millipedes; and other arthropods and small mammals.
It is noticed by keepers that Peafowl enjoy protein rich food including larvae that infest granaries , different kinds of meat and fruit, as well as vegetables including dark leafy greens, broccoli, carrots, beans, beets, and peas. Out of respect for his adversaries prowess in battle, the God converted the two halves as an integral part of himself. One half became a peacock serving as his mount, and another a rooster adorning his flag. The peacock displays the divine shape of Omkara when it spreads its magnificent plumes into a full-blown circular form.
Chandragupta Maurya , the founder of the Mauryan Empire , was born an orphan and raised by a family farming peacocks. After conquering the Nanda Empire and defeating the Seleucid Empire , Chandragupta established the uncontested power of its time. It's royal emblem remained the peacock until Emperor Ashoka changed it to Lions , as seen in the Lion Capital of Ashoka , as well in his edicts.
The peacocks significance of elegance and royalty pertained in India during medieval times, as it was the Mughal seat of power called the Peacock Throne. In the Burmese and Sinhalese zodiacs , the peacock is represented in both of their cultures. To the Sinhalese people , the peacock is the third animal of the zodiac of Sri Lanka. The Buddhist deity Mahamayuri is depicted seated on a peacock. Peacocks are seen supporting the throne of Amitabha, the ruby red sunset coloured archetypal Buddha of Infinite Light.
In Persia and Babylonia , the peacock is seen as a guardian to royalty and is often engraved upon royal thrones. Nonetheless, using the peacock as the symbol of royalty has an old and distinguished pedigree in India too.
After he repented, he wept for 7, years, his tears filling seven jars, which then quenched the fires of hell. In Hellenistic imagery, the Greek goddess Hera 's chariot was pulled by peacocks, birds not known to Greeks before the conquests of Alexander. Alexander's tutor, Aristotle , refers to it as "the Persian bird".
One myth states that Hera's servant, the hundred-eyed Argus Panoptes , was instructed to guard the woman-turned-cow, Io. Hera had transformed Io into a cow after learning of Zeus 's interest in her. Zeus had the messenger of the gods, Hermes , kill Argus through eternal sleep and free Io. According to Ovid , to commemorate her faithful watchman, Hera had the hundred eyes of Argus preserved forever, in the peacock's tail.
The peacock is still used in the Easter season, especially in the east. A peacock drinking from a vase is used as a symbol of a Christian believer drinking from the waters of eternal life. The peacock can also symbolise the cosmos if one interprets its tail with its many 'eyes' as the vault of heaven dotted by the sun, moon, and stars.