A symbol of utter elegance and beauty, male peafowl (known as peacocks) are adorned with huge, vivid tail feathers that allow for one of the most spectacular courtship displays in the animal kingdom. Their vibrant spectrum of blues and greens is familiar to most of us. But the species most commonly associated with peafowl, the Indian peafowl, is just one of three peafowl species in its family, along with the green peafowl and the Congo peafowl. Today, I am going to be focusing on the lesser-known, but arguably more elegant, green peafowl (Pavo muticus).
The green peafowl is found in the tropical forests of Southeast Asia. Unlike the blue-necked Indian peafowl, the green peafowl, unsurprisingly, has a neck covered with iridescent green feathers, resembling scales. Their prehistoric and almost reptile-like appearance has earned them the nickname ‘dragonbird’. Males and females are not too dissimilar, apart from the obvious two metre long tail feathers found only in males, decorated with bronze, blue and green eyespots. Both sexes have sparkling, turquoise crystals on the top of their head, as well as a tall, teal-coloured crest.
A forest bird, the green peafowl spends most of its time on the ground where it feeds on various fruits, insects, frogs, reptiles and small mammals. It is also capable of hunting venomous snakes. Female peafowl (known as peahens) nest on the ground too, laying three to six eggs.
As a result of hunting and habitat loss, the green peafowl is endangered. Once widespread across Southeast Asia, they have lost much of their former range, now being restricted to Java, Myanmar (Burma) and a few other isolated populations. The green peafowl is a bird of royalty with its impressive emerald and sapphire tones. I see it as a privilege that we get to share this planet with such a phenomenal creature. To lose this bird, due to our own actions, would be unforgivable.