The Auroville Peacock
As you wander through the dense tropical dry evergreen forests of Auroville or along its red earth roads, expect to come across the majestic peacock (mayil in Tamil) at some point! It’s definitely one of the most stunning, breath-taking birds of the whole region, but in truth, don’t be fooled by its pompous attitude, as its not so majestic once up in the air! Peacocks are known to be very clumsy fliers, but very good actors when on the ground (especially to charm the pea-hens).
Whilst the arid plateau of Auroville slowly started turning into a denser and greener forest area over the years, so did the colorful bird start growing in number. Today, they live by the hundreds and are scattered throughout different areas. Even though they are wild and free, if you are lucky enough, some of them grow accustomed to human presence and it becomes possible to have 1 or several peacocks that like to hang around with you! For those who like having them around, they will learn to come to a specific site for regular feeding. They were first introduced in Auroville during the 1980s. My family had befriended a peacock during my younger years, and he would come to visit us every single day, he was a true friend throughout my childhood!
It’s always a pleasure to be in company of the majestic bird who proudly shows off its luxurious plumage every now and then (well, mostly when the pea-hens are in sight!)
Peacocks have been kept as tame birds in India for over 3,000 years, and even feature in the Bible and Greek and Roman mythology, in the latter case as the favorite bird of the goddess Hera for the Greeks, and of Juno for the Romans.
The birds are valued in India because they eat young snakes such as cobras, thus keeping their numbers down around human settlements. And, like geese, they are also considered to be excellent watchdogs (OK, watchbirds!) because of the way they start calling at night if they spot anything unusual in their area. Both Asian species of peacock are considered polygamous, meaning that they usually have more than one mate.
Peacocks like peace and harmony, and can become stressed if they don’t have it. They also need companionship, and can become depressed – even heartbroken – if obliged to live alone.
Peacocks reach maturity at around 10-12 months of age, and usually start breeding at around 2-3 years. They can live for at least 15 years in captivity, but probably don’t live as long in the wild.
- Peacocks are very much attracted to anything white.
- The eerie call of the peacock – usually a may-awe from trees just before dawn and at dusk – is often heard when rain is approaching.
- White peacocks are considered to be a mutation, not albino birds.