The magnificent peacock is a bird native to the island of Sri Lanka, with their distinctive calls being heard all over the jungles. For such colorful creatures, they are surprisingly shy by nature, hence the best place to find one is within the boundaries of the numerous national parks, hiding from the daily hustle bustle of Sri Lankan life.
Being the largest of the pheasants, the peacock is a native bird to both Sri Lanka and India. Most often, the ones that you see on photographs with the beautiful plumage are the male peacocks – after which the simile ‘proud as a peacock’ was formed! The female pea hen does not have the lovely ornamental feathers and bright colors. Pea fowl are quite readily tamed and can sometimes be seen in the lawns of hotels or within the garden of large private residences in Sri Lanka.
While on a safari at the Yala National Park, peacocks are a common sight. They could be displaying its fan of feathers or perched up and camouflaged at the top of trees. Peafowl – which is the actual term for peacocks and peahens together, have an average life span of 20 years when living in the wild. In Sri Lanka, they can be found in the jungles of Eastern, Northern and Southern provinces. If driving through the Hambantota district in Southern Sri Lanka, you can see them strolling on the streets as well.
The best time to observe peacocks is in the early morning when males gather around females, shouting loudly and stretching out their lovely feathers to create a beautiful dance. This is how they attracts the females and it is indeed one of the most gorgeous observations of Mother Nature.
So why is it that the male has such an amazing fan of feathers? Well, most obviously, to attract the ladies when in courtship display. The peacock with the biggest and best fan is normally awarded the girl! Most often, successful males are capable of controlling a group of peahens. The females can lay about3-5 eggs and are ground feeders – eat insects, seed, vegetable matter and other small creatures.
Hindus in Sri Lanka have a special place for peacocks – Skanda, the God of Kataragama, sits with his wives and peacocks on either sides. In addition to that, Lord Vishnu, one of the major Gods in Hinduism is often shown with a peacock in the background.
During your visit to the hill country of Sri Lanka, if you have a stop in Kandy and are going to see the Kandyan Dance, you will see peacocks playing a big role. An entire entity of the dance is where the looks and behaviors of peacocks are exhibited. This part of the dance is known as Mayura (translation of peacock) Vannama.