Pavophobia and a Pride of Peacocks

When I think of a peacock, the first thing that comes to mind is its glorious fanlike tail complete with brilliant plumage that is adorned with iridescent spots that look like eyes.  Did you realize that it is only the male of the species that has such a tail?

closeup of a peacock’s tail feathers, wikimedia commons

Some Interesting Facts About Peacocks
Peacock is the name for the male of the species.  The female is called a peahen.  The male and female are collectively referred to as peafowl.  Babies are called chicks.  A family of peacocks is a bevy.

Peacock chicks are strong little birds.  They can walk, eat, and drink on their own when they have been in this world for barely a day.

There are three species of peafowl: Indian or blue peafowl, the green peafowl, and the Congo peafowl.  The Indian peacock is the national bird of India.  All species of peacock are endangered.

peacock wooing peahen, wikimedia commons

peacock wooing peahen, wikimedia commons

The brilliant tail plumage belongs to the male of the species.  It is used during courtship to attract the attention of a mate.  It is up to the peahen to choose whom she wants as a mate.  Her decision is based on the size, color, and quality of their tail plumage (train).  Still, the peacock usually has a harem of as few as two or as many as five peahens.

The peacock’s train can be opened and arched into a splendid fan that will reach across its back and touch the ground on either side.  Each part of this brilliantly colored tail will change colors according to the way it is hit by light.  I’m sure that during the short periods of time these birds fly through the air, the show is amazing.  Due to the combined length of its train (this makes up more than 60% of its total length) and its huge wingspan, the peacock is one of the largest flying birds.

peahen wtih her babies, wikimedia commons

What about the peahen?  Isn’t she brilliantly colored in some way?  Unfortunately for her, no.  Compared to the male, her brown color is quite plain.  Beside him, she appears to be rather dowdy.  Since the peacock has a harem that contains anywhere from two to five peahens, there must be something that he finds attractive about the female of his species.

These highly sociable birds require companionship.  I wonder, has there ever been a peacock or peahen that died from loneliness?

Think about how hard it would be to hold that huge train off the ground.  In order to rest from doing this, the peacock will fly into trees and rest.  So much better to let that beautiful tail hang down without fear of it getting dirty than to drag it along the ground.  They will also fly into trees to protect themselves from predators.

During Biblical times, peafowl were values and considered as treasure.  King Solomon is said to have brought many of them to Israel.

Peacocks belong to the family that includes pheasants, partridges, turkeys, and grouse.  So, it is obvious that these birds will provide some prime eating.  If you were a member of royalty, and you happened to live during medieval times, your cooks might have prepared a dish of peacocks for you.  It has been eaten by those who are not royalty as well.  This page is from a 1951 cookbook – http://www.gourmet.com/recipes/1950s/1951/12/peacock.  And on this site you will find a roast peacock recipe.  I’m willing to try about anything.  I might have a hard time taking a bite of peacock because I think they are so beautiful, but I love turkey so much that I most likely wouldn’t be able to resist a taste.

The Amazing White Peacock
The white peacock is not albino.  They have a genetic mutation, leucism, and this mutation is the cause of the lack of pigments in their plumage.  Albinos have a complete lack of color with red or pink eyes.  The white peacock has blue eyes.  It is a color variation of the Indian blue peacock.  And it is gorgeous.  The chicks aren’t born white; they are born yellow.  The yellow changes to white as they mature.

Pavophobia, the fear of peacocks
The world can be a terrifying place to live for people who have phobias.  A phobia is an extreme dread or fear of something.  When a person encounters the object of his or her fear, he could experience anxiety, shortness of breath, rapid breathing, an irregular heartbeat, sweating, nausea, dry mouth, etc.  While this person’s phobia may seem outrageous or unreasonable to you, I assure you it is not unreasonable to the person experiencing it.

angry French peacock, tumblr.com

Yes, there are those out there who fear these beautiful, magnificent birds.  I did not realize this, probably because I have never been to a zoo, but most zoos have free-roaming peacocks.  The zoo keepers aren’t afraid of the peacocks leaving on their own because these birds have a strong homing instinct.  That leads me to believe that the birds would not be allowed to roam freely if they had just been brought to the zoo.  I believe that first they would have to come to think of the zoo as their home, maybe even have young.

Being chased by peacocks while at a zoo is what has triggered pavophobia for some.  I’m not sure how I would react to being chased by them.  Would it make me feel as though I was a part of the movie The Birds?

Being chased by a peacock is about the only reason I can see for being deathly afraid of them.  Maybe a nightmare about being attacked by peacocks would do the trick though.  Can you think of any other reason why a person would have a deathly fear of this magnificent bird?

a pride of peacocoks, candidkerry.wordpress.com

Collective nouns
a muster of peacocks – To muster means to assemble for battle, display, inspection , orders, or discharge.  I see this collective noun fitting a group of peacocks who are assembling for display.

an ostentation of peacocks – An ostentation is a display intended to impress others.  I’m getting the idea that peacocks are proud and boastful animals.

a party of peacocks – Everyone knows the fun and antics that go on during a party. This collective noun makes me think that even those peacocks are proud, they love to have fun.

a pride of peacocks – The third collective noun that speaks of pride.  Yep, they must be really proud of that magnificent tail.

a pulchritude of peacocksPulchritude is physical beauty or comeliness.  What else is there to say?

a harem of peahens – This collective noun is strictly for the female peahen.  Each peacock has a harem that consists of two to five peahens, or you could say that each peacock has a harem of peahens.

as proud as a peacock, www.haikudeck.com

Idioms
There are enough idioms and sayings about peacocks to fill a book, so I’m only going to mention a couple of them.

If someone is as proud as a peacock or as vain as a peacock, this person has a very high opinion of himself or herself.

If someone is as happy as a peacock, this person is extremely pleased and probably struts around with his/her head in the air.

Peacock Legends
Hindu mythology says that the peacock is magical and sacred bird.  It is associated with Indra, the god of thunder.  According to this legend, the peacock will dance when the rain comes.

The Chinese see the peacock as a symbol of dignity and beauty.  Because the peacock will molt its feathers and grow them again later, this bird is often associated the resurrection of Christ.

Europeans see the beautiful peacock as an evil bird.  According to them, the “eyes” in the tail feathers are the same as the “evil eye”.  To look upon them will only bring impending doom.

girl writing, writinglives.org

Writing Prompts
Have a peacock chick as your character, but this chick is different from all of the other chicks born at the same time.  He is born with a yellowish tint.  This means that instead of being brilliantly colored, he will be white when he grows up.  Do the other chicks make fun of him?  Or do they look upon him with awe because he will grow up to have all white feathers?

The peacocks are really proud of their tail feathers.  Write a story about a peacock whose tail feathers have been plucked.  What does this do to him?  His feathers will regrow, but will he be able to keep them?  Why or why not?

King Solomon is said to have brought peacocks to Israel.  Write about him obtaining peacocks and the reaction of his people when they first saw these brilliant birds.

Have your character develop pavophobia after a visit to the zoo.  Did this fear develop because the peacocks chased him/ her?  Or was there some other reason it developed?

Choose one of the collective nouns and write a story about how it came to be.

Write a story that has a character who is as proud as a peacock.

Choose one of the legends and write about story about how you think it came to be believed.

  3 comments for “Pavophobia and a Pride of Peacocks

  1. February 6, 2015 at 2:59 pm

    While walking to work today, I saw the strangest thing. It looked like a peacock but it had tiger stripes in it’s feathers. He danced a jig right there in front of me and looked like a tiger running after it’s prey. As he inched closer to me, I realize with a start that I was the intended victim! I ran the entire mile to work but once there nobody believed me.

    Yeah, I know it needs work. LOL!

    • Lisa
      February 6, 2015 at 3:30 pm

      Out of curiosity, do you now have pavophobia?

  2. Ann
    February 11, 2016 at 10:17 pm

    I have never been chased by a peacock but am afraid of them. It is because their call sounds like someone crying out for help.

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