Peacocks 2.0

Peacocks 2.0

Do you remember the Peacock adventure? Where I found wild Peacocks living all over the Houston area? If you are new to my adventures, or just want to refresh your memory, check out that link. There is a large group that lives just around the corner from me and I went back to check on them the other day. Actually, I went twice. The first day was rather cloudy, hence the high ISO choice; the second day was still cloudy, but I shot everything aperture preferred (f/8) for an experiment in DOF.

It is close to breeding season and ... the males are ready! This area is just one short street ending in a cul-de-sac. There are a dozen houses and almost each front yard had a male showing his stuff.

Male displaying for anyone who is interested Sony A700 with 70-400mm 1/800 sec. f/5.6 ISO 1600

Male displaying for anyone who is interested

Sony A700 with 70-400mm 1/800 sec. f/5.6 ISO 1600

The males displayed for any female near by and if there were not females about, they showed off for each other. I saw Peacocks in yards...

and on rooftops...

Surveying his kingdom Sony A700 with 70-400mm 1/320 sec. f/5.6 ISO 1600

Surveying his kingdom

Sony A700 with 70-400mm 1/320 sec. f/5.6 ISO 1600

And Peacocks on fences...

Fences are not a detriment to Peacock Sony A700 with 70-400mm 1/160 sec. f/8.0 ISO 1600

Fences are not a detriment to Peacock

Sony A700 with 70-400mm 1/160 sec. f/8.0 ISO 1600

And Peacocks in the street...

High stepping is part of the fan dance Sony A700 with 70-400mm 1/500 sec. f/8.0 ISO 1600

High stepping is part of the fan dance

Sony A700 with 70-400mm 1/500 sec. f/8.0 ISO 1600

And the objects of all this attention? I saw about three females and for the most part, they were ignoring the males. Could be they are not old enough to breed, or just not interested yet. One was busy in the boxwoods.

Peahen Sony A700 with 70-400mm 1/200 sec. f/5.6 ISO 1600

Peahen

Sony A700 with 70-400mm 1/200 sec. f/5.6 ISO 1600

The females don't seem to be hiding, but they are plainer and less noticeable than the males. I know they breed in this area; last year I saw a female with two half-grown chicks following her around.

Peahens are pretty in their own right, but are far outshone by the males Sony A700 with 70-400mm 1/500 sec. f/8.0 ISO 1600

Peahens are pretty in their own right, but are far outshone by the males

Sony A700 with 70-400mm 1/500 sec. f/8.0 ISO 1600

The males seem to claim a yard as their own stage and periodically perform the 'plumage fan dance'. If a female is near he will spread those huge feathers, slowly revolve, showing her his backside as well and then tip the whole fan forward a bit and .... vibrate. It is awesome, I am telling you.

Peacock with all his colors Sony A700 with 70-400mm 1/800 sec. f/5.6 ISO 1600

Peacock with all his colors

Sony A700 with 70-400mm 1/800 sec. f/5.6 ISO 1600

The colors are spectacular. The one above is not straight out of the camera, but only lightly processed.

Profile of displaying male Sony A700 with 70-400mm 1/800 sec. f/8.0 ISO 1600

Profile of displaying male

Sony A700 with 70-400mm 1/800 sec. f/8.0 ISO 1600

They shake the whole fan at the female, but the back side is in motion as well.

Peacock calling... Sony A700 with 70-400mm 1/640 sec. f/8.0 ISO 1600

Peacock calling...

Sony A700 with 70-400mm 1/640 sec. f/8.0 ISO 1600

And they are noisy. The calls sound like a cat in distress or a maybe even a child having a temper tantrum. I wasn't sure if they were calling to let females know they were in the area or showing off for the nearby males. Once, a black truck came down the street and made a U-turn at the end. And the closest male put up a terrible ruckus. Did he dislike the driver? Associate something bad with that kind of vehicle?

I never tried to spook any of the birds but edged quietly closer. After 10 or 15 minutes they were walking around normally and totally ignoring me and my camera.

Pied Peacock Sony A700 with 70-400mm 1/320 sec. f/8.0 ISO 1600

Pied Peacock

Sony A700 with 70-400mm 1/320 sec. f/8.0 ISO 1600

The pied peacock hangs around near the middle of the street. It seems fond of this house (which is for sale) and has this interesting white color on his neck, back and in the center of the fan. Occasionally you will see all white peacocks in a zoo; they are not albinos (which is the lack of color pigmentation and would have red eyes). The white is not a mutation, it is a color variation or pattern.

According to United Peafowl Association Knowledge Base, the first color variation was the blackshoulder, which appeared in 1830. When the white first appeared is unknown. White, pied and blackshoulder color patterns of Indian blues are not often found in the wild. Any patches of white would make the bird more visible to predators. The theory is that in the safety of being in captivity, their recessive coloration genes have emerged. This has also happened in pet birds such as the zebra finch and other animals like the gerbil and the Syrian hamster.

This pied one is even more spectacular from the back:

Flip side is cool, too Sony A700 with 70-400mm 1/640 sec. f/8.0 ISO 1600

Flip side is cool, too

Sony A700 with 70-400mm 1/640 sec. f/8.0 ISO 1600

Just before this display session, the bird flew down from his perch in one of the trees. I got some photos, but the shutter speed was too slow and I was too far away. Dang. They can fly and do for short distances, with that long train trailing behind them. Maybe next time.

Pied peacock displaying to female with Juvenile showing off at the right Sony A700 with 70-400mm 1/125 sec. f/10.0 ISO 1600

Pied peacock displaying to female with Juvenile showing off at the right

Sony A700 with 70-400mm 1/125 sec. f/10.0 ISO 1600

The above shot shows the Pied Peacock trying to get the attention of a female. On the right, is a juvenile male, with no train feathers to display, but he is showing what he had. As the juveniles mature, they will challenge the older males. This one is not ready yet, I guess he is practicing.

Note: the f/10.0 above was not intentional. This A700 I am borrowing has some ... issues... with settings jumping about on their own. You just knew there had to be a catch, right?

Little fella, not yet ready for prime time Sony A700 with 70-400mm 1/200 sec. f/10.0 ISO 1600

Little fella, not yet ready for prime time

Sony A700 with 70-400mm 1/200 sec. f/10.0 ISO 1600

He is going to be a handsome guy when he grows up, right? Males don't get their full trains until they are about 3 yrs old.

Neighborhood kitteh Sony A700 with 70-400mm 1/1000 sec. f/8.0 ISO 1600

Neighborhood kitteh

Sony A700 with 70-400mm 1/1000 sec. f/8.0 ISO 1600

And I always find a cat or two. This one strolled right by one of the displaying, calling males. They don't seem to mind each other in the least.

Orange kitteh Sony A700 with 70-400mm 1/500 sec. f/8.0 ISO 1600

Orange kitteh

Sony A700 with 70-400mm 1/500 sec. f/8.0 ISO 1600

This orange guy was extra friendly. He came over and rubbed against my legs and even let me pet him. Maybe they are tired of the birds getting all the attention!

Are you happy to see something besides shorebirds this week? Have you been over to check on the peacocks this year? Click on the little balloon and sign in as a Guest; I would love to hear from you.

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A Second Look at the White Ibis

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