Males, Females & Babies

by Florence W Deems
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Everyone loves to see a male peacock in full display. Many people have tried in vain to get one to open its magnificent tail feathers. What we discovered when observing the resident peacocks at the Grounds for Sculpture, in Hamilton, New Jersey, was that they display only during mating season, in the spring. And then usually only if a female is in sight.

The first two images below are of the Alpha male displaying in 'his' place at the front entrance of the Domestic Arts Building. The female finally approached him, shown in the second image, but all she was interested in was pecking on the pavement at any little speck she saw. In spite of the wondrous display from the male, she walked on, ignoring him. Gee, what's a guy gotta do, anyway?

To see a larger size, please click on the thumbnail images.

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Alfa Male: Come, all ye maidens, admire me!
In the second image you can see the pad of ruffly feathers that seems to support the weight of the long feathers. Otherwise, without this pad, the males probably would damage the tips of the beautiful feathers by dragging them in the sand and mud.

Alfa Male: Can anyone tell me if she's paying attention?
Why do I use the terms "alpha" and "beta" males? Well, I've noticed that whenever any other male comes near the Domestic Arts Building, that male always chases them away, including the one I'm calling the "beta" male. And so the moniker "alpha" male for the "top bird." The beta male chases all other males away from "his" Museum Building, except for the alpha male. I haven't tried to figure out the rest of the pecking order of the other males, but I guess they each seem to have staked out a special territory for themselves.

I found the Beta male resting in the shade in 'his' spot next to the Museum Building. The females weren't paying any attention to him, either. The philosophy must be that since it's hard work erecting that enormous tail every time a female walks by, when they are not present, then rest is the better part of valor. The fourth image shows the Beta male raising his head as he became aware that I wanted to take his picture. This time I was inside the building, trying to focus through the thick double-paned window.

Beta male: I sure hope a female comes along soon.

Beta male: Hey, you looking at me?
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All that posturing and displaying by the males must have attracted two hens. One day I discovered two hens with their little chicks around one of the benches. In the first image, even though I had camera on a tripod, both hens moved just at the time I clicked the shutter. So they are slightly blurred. The hen on the bench had two chicks, the other one only one baby.

Another day, second image, the hen with the two chicks walked right past me, showing no fear of me. This surprised me, as I would have expected a hen with chicks this young to be wary of people. The third image shows the hen with one slightly older chick. The females like to sun with their chicks in this planting by the Museum Building. The last image shows a curious young hen who's about 8-9 months old and all grown up.

Hen: You chicks stay here while I go down
to find something to eat.

Hen: Don't mind this human. She's harmless.

Hen: Well, are you going to kick us out of here?

Young Hen: Got something good to eat?

One late summer I watched a hen with three babies. They had bedded down in the fresh mulch the grounds people had just blown around the young tree. The birds had a serious time digging and scratching and burrowing into the mulch and then tossing it up over their backs. I suppose this helps keep the mite population down on their skin. Two chicks kept close to Mom, but the third faced the other direction. Since its neck feathers had started to show color, I assumed this chick was male.

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~ Life of Peacocks - 1 ~ 2 ~
~ Hard Life of Peacocks ~
~ Young Male Tries Out His Tail Display ~
~ Peacock Life Cycle ~
~ The White Peacock ~ Miscellany ~

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