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.
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...
And Peacocks on fences...
And Peacocks in the street...
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.
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.
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.
The colors are spectacular. The one above is not straight out of the camera, but only lightly processed.
They shake the whole fan at the female, but the back side is in motion as well.
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.
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:
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.