Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Mating Season

It is mating season for the peacocks;  it always seems to be mating season.  They scream and call throughout the night, challenging each other, shadows, suspicious looking  trees and windows.  I've never seen two peacocks fight, but I have seen them square up to their own reflections.  One challenger was in the shiny bumper of a neighbour's car.  The peacock kept staring at it, stepping back, then returning with a lance-like beak.  I don't think they are terribly bright birds, for all their finery and lumbering bulk.

The noise they make is penetrating and sounds like babies being tortured, or cats crying.

One of the mature males has a magnificent tail about twice or three times his body length.  I haven't seen him display yet this year, but I will try to get some photos to show you.  When they have a female cornered, they rattle their long tail feathers and strut back and forth.  I think it is the noise as much as the feathers that mesmerise the poor unsuspecting hens.

This is not a good photo as it was taken at dusk, but you can see how long his tail is, relative to his body.

They are beautiful, majestic, of irriedescent gleaming blue and green and I never tire of watching them.  They are also destructive beasts, messy and threatening if cornered.  Luckily they are also cowards.

They like to forage in groups and are often about on the street:

The one with the blue neck is an immature male, who hasn't yet grown his tail (maybe next year).  The frumpish ones in the background are females.

Some how they remind me of Virginia Woolf's extended essay Three Guineas  where she exhibits the male species in all his fancy robes, dressing up.  Of course the females have better camouflage, as do the chicks.   Perhaps survival is more important than finery?


Another juvenile male, with an embarrassing stump of a tail.



Tim Jones said...

I'm not surprised that peacocks are, apart from their tails and their cry, unprepossessing beasts. Some evolutionary arms race has saddled them with the genetic obligation to waste huge amounts of their energy on building those marvellous and impractical tails, leaving little energy to spare for anything else ... I feel sorry for them, actually.

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