“Peacocks sweep the fairies’ rooms; They use their folded tails for brooms;
But fairy dust is brighter far
Than any mortal colours are;
And all about their tails it clings
In strange designs of rounds and rings;
And that’s why they strut about
And proudly spread their feathers out“
Isn’t that a lovely poem! I chanced upon this poem by Rose Amy Fyleman, an English poet who was well known for her fairy poems for children. The poet says the peacocks were the sweepers of fairies. Thus the idiom ‘proud as a peacock’ is fully justified!
Peacocks fascinate everyone with their resplendence. Poets say, when the rain clouds gather in the sky the peacocks dance with joy! The birds were familiar through poems and stories, in my young days. Other than zoological gardens or some temples they were hardly seen elsewhere.
The birds were seldom seen near human habitation those days. But in recent years, they have become a common sight. In most parts of Kerala, including our small village Anakkara, peafowls are seen fearlessly strutting around, flaunting their iridescent plumes and train.
The shrill shrieks of the peafowls from the paddy fields in front are quite normal during my visits to amma. Along with the chirp and tweet of the smaller birds, Anakkara mornings have become noisier with the cacaphonous calls from these birds! The bevy of peafowls parade in the fields across the road with the chicks, forage around the house and walk across the road without any fear.
Caution! Peahens crossing the road. Madam Peahen is hurrying to join the ‘party’ on the other side of the road!
Some peacock facts I learnt recently: Peacocks shed their train after mating season, hence Man can gather the feathers by not harming the bird, unless he wishes to be too greedy. Tiny crystal like structures present in the feathers give the shimmering blue and green colours of their plumage. Usually there are three to four females and a male in a harem of peafowls. A peahen’s crest has sensors and is attuned to the vibrating frequencies of the rattling of the male’s train!
Contrary to my belief, the white peafowls are not a specific species. They are the ones with a genetic mutation called leucism, that causes lack of pigmentation.
It looks exciting to follow the colourful trail of peacock tales! The bird has a prominent place in Greek, Egyptian, Roman and Hindu mytholigies. Hopefully I shall unfurl the stories in another blog post.