Pecan peacocks: Feral fowl

September 28, 2013

Several months ago my daughter saw a peacock in our back yard in Pecan Plantation.

A few weeks later a friend of mine, Caron Nicklas, who lives about two miles away, told me she saw one on her roof. Since then I see one every couple of weeks.

The other day a peacock was walking through our yard completely ignoring our barking dog and a peacock paparazzi. I was able to get close enough for a photo.

Two days later I was driving to work and saw one standing at my neighbor’s front door pecking at the glass as if he were there for a visit and probably a little snack.

Unfortunately, they molt this time of year and shed all their feathers like a snake sheds its skin, so I have missed out on seeing the whole peacock package.

I called my friend Dave Moore, who lives not too far from me, to see if he has seen any in his neighborhood. He had not. Birds are a hobby for Dave, and I thought he might be able to provide some insight into the recent big bird sightings.

“Peacocks are not native to North America,” said Dave.

“But because of their beauty they have been imported as an ornamental and taken into captivity. They are tame, dependent on people and sometimes escape. That’s why you’ll find them in odd places. They don’t survive well on their own and may get attacked by dogs and coyotes.”

Dave said it’s possible that the same peacock I saw in my yard could be the same one Caron saw on her roof. They are very good flyers so it is possible. There could be just one or there could be many scattered throughout Pecan.

Peacocks are part of the pheasant family called peafowl. While the males are called peacocks, the females are called peahens, and a group of them is a party.

According to sandiegozoo.org, there are three types of peafowl in the world: Indian, green and Congo. Most people are familiar with the Indian peafowl, since that is the kind found in many zoos and parks. Indian peafowl live in India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, green peafowl are found in Southeast Asia, and Congo peafowl are from central Africa.

The Indian peafowl is the national bird of India and is protected in that country. In the Hindu religion, the peafowl is a sacred bird, because the spots on the peacock’s tail symbolize the eyes of the gods.

How Peacocks Got Their Spots

While I don’t think this is how it happened, it’s a fun story.

According to Greek mythology, peacocks got their spots thanks to a woman named Io. She was a priestess to Hera, the wife of Zeus.

Famous for his wandering eye, Zeus took a fancy to Io and turned her into a heifer in order to disguise her, thus protecting her from the wrath of jealous Hera.

Hera was onto his ruse and tricked Zeus into giving her the heifer (Io) as a present. Once she had the heifer in her possession, Hera appointed Argus, a man covered with eyes, to guard Io.

Zeus sent a minion to rescue the priestess, who killed Argus in the process. As a tribute to Argus and his many eyes, Hera bestowed the “eyespot” onto the peacock.

Commercialization of Feathers

At the end of each summer and mating season, peacocks shed their stunningly beautiful plumage like snakes shed their skin.

The feathers are used for lots of different things after they are shed and collected. You can buy them from many places online from 65 cents to $1.50 per feather. I’ve seen them used for jewelry, hats, masks, costumes, lamp shades, picture and mirror frames, just to mention a few.

The beautiful iridescent color scheme and pattern is used in scarves, wall paper, fabric, clothes, phone cases and even cabinet knobs and nail arts. Many brides have selected the peacock as a wedding theme, incorporating the beautiful feathers and colors into every little detail.

Now that it’s getting cooler out, I should really start walking again around the neighborhood for exercise. Looking for those feathers in my neighborhood gives me the extra motivation I need.

I’m on a mission now.

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