August 7, 2013

Wildlife Wednesday- The Peacock

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   The peacock (also known as peafowl) is a medium sized bird most closely related to the pheasant. Unlike its common pheasant cousin that inhabits areas of the Northern Hemisphere, the peacock is found in warmer climate of the Southern Hemisphere, with the peacock being most commonly found in India.
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There are three main types of peacock, the African Congo peacock, the Indian peacock and the Green peacock all of which are thought to have originated in Asia but are today found in Africa and parts of Australia. All of the three different species of peacock are known for their elaborate male peacocks and dull, brown female peacocks (in comparison to the males).
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The male peacock is most well-known for its enormous tail feathers that fan out behind the peacock and can be nearly two meters in length. This colorful display of the peacock is thought to be used for both mating and defense purposes. The male peacock attracts a female to mate with by showing off his array of elaborate feathers, and when the male peacock feels threatened, he will fan his tail out in order to make himself look bigger and therefore try to intimidate approaching predators.
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The peacock is an omnivorous bird and feeds on insects, plants, seeds, and flower heads. Peacocks have also been known to munch on small mammals and reptiles in order to supplement their diet, which ensures that they are getting the right nutrients. Peacocks have a number of natural predators in the wild that include wild dogs and cats, medium sized mammals such as raccoons and even tigers have been known to hunt peacocks.

Peacocks commonly get to about 20 years old, although some peacock individuals have been known to get to older ages particularly those peacock individuals that are in captivity. Generally, the peacock populations are not under great threat although the green peacock is listed as being vulnerable to extinction mainly due to hunting and habitat loss.

Male peacocks are known as peacocks and female peacocks are known as peahens (in a similar way to chickens and pheasants). The male is peacock is generally about twice the size of the female peahen and even larger when the male peacock is displaying his plumage (feathers). When the male peacock does not have his brightly colored and very elaborate tail feathers on display, they drag behind him. This is known as a tail or a train.

During the mating season, the male peacock may mate with up to six different female peahens. The female peahen lays between 4 and 8 brown colored eggs. The female peahen incubates her eggs by sitting on them, and the peacock chick’s hatch after an incubation period of about a month. The female peacock looks after and rears her peacock chicks on her own without any help from the male peacock.
Peacocks are most commonly found in deserts and dry savanna areas. Peacocks are also found in forests and dense foliage particularly during the breeding season when the female peacocks are trying to incubate their eggs and rear their chicks without any unwelcome predators spotting them.

Work Cited:
http://animal.discovery.com/birds/peacock-info.htm

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