ESPERANZA'S WORLD PEAFOWL

Peafowl Facts Sheet

  • Peafowl are related to the pheasant and turkey family.
  • Two species of peafowl are found in the wild in Southwest Asia, the Indian Blue and the Green Peafowl.  There is also a native Congo peafowl recently discovered in Africa.
  • Peafowl live to be 15- 25 years old and weigh 8 – 13 pounds.
  • Peafowl are omnivores; they eat plants, berries, seeds, fruit, insects, small snakes, lizards and rodents.
  • Peacocks usually attract a harem of 2 – 5 peahens.
  • Peacocks need companionship; they get lonely; peafowl in general are sociable birds.
  • The peahens have no train of feathers and are much less colorful than the peacock; this lack of color protects them from predators while they incubate eggs.
  • A peacocks tail feathers are called a train.  The train of feathers molt every year in late summer.
  • Peacocks strut the colorful train to court females and to discourage competitor males by opening the feathers into a massive fan of shimmering and iridescent colors.
  • Peafowl like to roost in trees at night but usually nest on the ground. They fly up into trees to escape predators; they only fly short distances though.
  • Predators include raccoons, skunks, cats, dogs, and opossums in captivity. In the wild, they fear tigers, leopards and eagles.
  • Peachicks can walk, eat and drink on their own when barely a day old. The eggs incubate for 28 days; peahens lay from 3 – 5 eggs. Peahens are considered good mothers.
  • A family of peafowl is called a bevy; a group of peafowl is known as a party.

Peafowl don’t mix well with other animals. They can be aggressive if in danger and have fierce tempers when provoked. They need space to roam; males are territorial.

Peacocks in History Sheet

  • Peacocks are indigenous to the jungles of Southwest Asia, but are found on all continents today.
  • The saying, “Proud as a Peacock” was first used in the 14th century to describe someone who struts around being vane or arrogant due to his/her appearance or abilities.
  • Peacocks are known as the “bird of 100 eyes” because of the beautiful patterns on their feathers.
  • In the ancient cultures of Egypt, Greece and Rome, the peacock feather was known as a symbol of bad luck or a bad omen because of its “evil eyes”.
  • Peacocks are the national bird of India and are considered sacred.
  • Peacocks are kept in Indian temples because they are thought to be excellent snake-slayers.
  • In ancient China, the peacock represented power and beauty; it was also used to show official rank in their society.
  • Peacock feathers have adorned the heads of royalty in many cultures and roamed freely in their elegant gardens.
  • In some cultures, the peacock symbolizes purity and is thought to be a divine bird.
  • Peacocks are part of the design of some European countries’ coat-of-arms.

Peacock Mythology

Why The Peacock’s Tail Has a Hundred Eyes

JUNO, queen of the gods, had the fairest cow that any one ever saw. She was creamy white, and her eyes were of as soft and bright a blue as those of any maiden in the world. Juno and the king of the gods often played tricks on each other, and Juno knew well that the king would try to get her cow. There was a watchman named Argus, and one would think that he could see all that was going on in the world, for he had a hundred eyes, and no one had ever seen them all asleep at once, so Queen Juno gave to Argus the work of watching the white cow.

The king of the gods knew what she had done, and he laughed to himself and said, “I will play a trick on Juno, and I will have the white cow.” He sent for Mercury and whispered in his ear, “Mercury, go to the green field where Argus watches the cream-white cow and get her for me.”

Mercury was always happy when he could play a trick on any one, and he set out gladly for the field where Argus watched the cream-white cow with every one of his hundred eyes.

Now Mercury could tell merry stories of all that was done in the world. He could sing, too, and the music of his voice had lulled many a god to sleep. Argus knew that, but he had been alone a long time, and he thought, “What harm is there in listening to his merry chatter? I have a hundred eyes, and even if half of them were asleep, the others could easily keep watch of one cow.” So he gladly hailed Mercury and said, “I have been alone in this field a long, long time, but you have roamed about as you would. Will you not sing to me, and tell me what has happened in the world? You would be glad to hear stories and music if you had nothing to do but watch a cow, even if it was the cow of a queen.”

So Mercury sang and told stories. Some of the songs were merry, and some were sad. The watchman closed one eye, then another and another, but there were two eyes that would not close for all the sad songs and all the merry ones. Then Mercury drew forth a hollow reed that he had brought from the river and began to play on it. It was a magic reed, and as he played, one could hear the water rippling gently on the shore and the breath of the wind in the pine-trees; one could see the lilies bending their heads as the dusk came on, and the stars twinkling softly in the summer sky.

It is no wonder that Argus closed one eye and then the other. Every one of his hundred eyes was fast asleep, and Mercury went away to the king of the gods with the cream-white cow.

Juno had so often played tricks on the king that he was happy because he had played this one on her, but Juno was angry, and she said to Argus, “You are a strange watchman. You have a hundred eyes, and you could not keep even one of them from falling asleep. My peacock is wiser than you, for he knows when any one is looking at him. I will put every one of your eyes in the tail of the peacock.” And today, whoever looks at the peacock can count in his tail the hundred eyes that once belonged to Argus.

Arizona Peafowl Teacher Resources

 

Peafowl Center Choice Activities

Re-read pages 37 – 39 about Esperanza and Chica’s scuffle with a peacock named Zafiro at the Ochoa’s party. Record information you learn about peacocks not included in the Peafowl Facts Sheet. Read one of the bookson peafowl and share what you learned during your next lit circle meeting.~The Spooky Tale of Prewitt Peacock by Bill Peet
~Just Plain Fancy by Patricia Polacco
~Feathers and Fools by Mem Fox
~A Peacock on the Lawn by Anna Hadfield
Re-read pages 37 – 39 about Esperanza and Chica’s scuffle with a peacock named Zafiro at the Ochoa’s party. Record information from the Peafowl Facts Sheet that verifies Esperanza’s claim to Papá that the peacock chased her and that Chica was only rescuing her.
Read the myth, “Why the Peacock’s Tail has a Hundred Eyes.”  Retell the myth to a friend or family member. Research the Peacock Constellation. Write a summary of your findings and post it in the classroom for others to read. Read the Peafowl in History Sheet and make a chart outlining how different cultures used and viewed the peacock as part of their lives or in their storytelling – myths and legends.
Use an online dictionary to look up the boldfaced words located in the Peafowl Facts Sheet and the Peafowl in History Sheet. Write the definitionson flashcards.  Write a creative story about a party or bevy of peafowl. Weave information you have learned from the Peafowl Center into your story. Illustrate it as an option. Share the story with a friend, your teacher or a family member. Research the use of peacock feathers to adorn clothing and head wear throughout history. Create a piece of art using peacock feathers in your design.
 

  • Omnivores are both meat and plant-eaters.
  • A harem is a group of female animals.
  • When an animal molts it loses feathers, hair or skin.
  • Iridescent means shimmering or sparkling with a rainbow of colors.
  • Predators are animals that hunt other animals for food.
  • Birds incubate or sit on their eggs until they hatch.
  • A territorial animal is one that defends an area it believes to be its own.
  • An indigenous animal is native to the local region.
  • A vain person is one who is excessively proud.
  • An arrogant person is one who is conceited overly confident.
  • An omen is a warning sign of a bad future.
  • To be sacred means something or someone is blessed or holy.
  • Divine means that something has a godlike nature or that it is lovely.
  • A coat-of-arms is an emblem or a symbol for a group or organization.
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