"The idea of wilderness needs no defense, it only needs defenders." - Edward Abbey
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27
Nov

Peafowl Smartness

I consider myself to be the luckiest employee in this wide world. Every night I wait for the sun to raise next morning so I can rush to my office at ‘Serenity Library’ at 09.00 am. I work as a Naturalist & Coordinator at the ‘Serenity Library’, a ‘state of the art’ organization that propogates & inspires enthusiasts to study and work on wildlife, environment & nature. The Serenity Library sits on 50,000 sq. mt. area of land which is no less than a forest. It is a thickly foliaged estate that boasts of lush green landscape with a wide range of flora and fauna thriving within it. It has a big man-made pond interlaced with paved walkways that run through thick outgrowths, an admiministravtive block that houses my office, a reading room that racks up 2,500 books on wildlife, environment & nature, a 70 head strong capacity multimedia room with a 8’X8′ screen to project documentaries, films & educational programs on wildlife, environment & nature from our own collections.

The early morning cacophony of the birds sounds no less than classical soft music to the ears of enthusiast like me. The clean air that I get to breathe in the surroundings like ours rejuvinates not just the physical self but the soul and inspires me to live long and enjoy the invaluable gifts of nature. When on my regular walk I relate & compare it with the walks of late Jim Corbett and Late M.A. Rasheed, the former a legend and the latter my grand uncle and my wildlife hero.

Every year, in September and October the Indian peafowl (commonly known as peacock, Pavo cristatus) shed their long tail feathers to replace them with new ones. These are the same feathers that give them their identity of one the most beautiful and attractive birds on the planet. Our premises boasts of being a permanent residence of more than 50 pairs of this big and beautiful peafowls. This is also the time of the year when the newly hatched cickens see the light of the world and gather enough courage to venture out in the open from the bushes and hideouts accompanied by their parents. On a regular basis I see the families of peafowls inquisitively searching for food and walking on the pathways and beaten tracks.

One such morning, early this week I noticed an interesting behaviour of the peafowl and learned a important lesson on ‘the art of parenting’. I entered into the last leg of my walk after walking through the thickets and beaten tracks around the fields, thick outgrowths, glades and the stone paved periphery of the pond. As I climbed uphill on to the crest of the walkway which is raised up by about 6 feet from the ground level into the the natural tunnel of branches and leaves created by the trees on the either side, I ran into a peafowl family which was walking towards me from the other direction just on the bend of the red-stone paved walkway beneath the long natural tunnel. They were on the way down towards the pond. On noticing me, insticntively the entire family turned back in a rush with great tuning and picked up the pace on their hasty retreat like that of a horse trot. The mother fowl lead the panicky retreat followed by the 3 chickens and eventually the tail-less father peafowl.

I kept up with my lazy pace pretending I had not taken any notice of them. As we moved on, I evidently reckoned from the behaviour of the elder pealfowls that they had wrongly assessed me as a predator. With a reflex, the mother peafowl took a detour off the crest and led the entire file down the slope to my left and entered the thick bushes dominated by agaves. The chickens followed the mother and the father was the last to disappear into the thicket. This made me inquisitive and I put my brakes on bringing my walk to an abrupt end. Pulling up my binoculars, I stood still to observe what was coming up next. The panic stricken family played with my patience as they stood motionless in the bushes. Pendimonium broke when after a considerable time with the game ‘who moves first’ the male male peafowl with lightening speed rushed out of the bushes giving a shrill call and crushing the dry leaves on the way as it climbed up the slope onto the crest about 20 feel ahead of me. It looked at me for a split second and then began walking ahead of me. On learning that I was not following him it stopped, looked at me and gave a call. I could sense it was seeking my attention, so this time I decided to follow it.

As it walked slowly, I gained on him and when it realized I was gaining, the peafowl gathered speed. As we crossed the spot where the mother and the chickens were taking refuge in the bushes, I smiled skeptically as I knew what was cooking up. For about 150 meters we played the ‘chasing’ game as the peafowl kept up with the speed in front and regulary kept a check me by looking back. All the while my doubtful skepticism was moulding into a certainity of what the peafowl couple had consipred. Then instentaneously it picked up momentum, took flight, turned aroud the trees to my left and flew back to the spot in the bushes where the family had taken refuge. In a reflex I pulled up my binoculars again and saw that post landing the peafowl gave a call, responding to which the mother peafowl emerged out of the bushes followed by the chickens and climbing up the crest the family continued its walk out of the high natural tunnel exactly from the same spot where they first turned back in panic on noticing me.

Nature has gifted the birds and animals with so much of wisdom and smartness. From the time I had walked into them the peafowl couple know what they had to do for the safety of the chickens. First the mother peafowl took refuge in the bushes and stood there motionless, then the father peafowl risked its life by playing a bait, then it diverted the attention of the predator, later it enticingly led the predator away from the family and when the predator was at a safe distance, it flew back to rejoin its family and finally they continued their walk on the previously decided course. As I have stated above, all the while I knew what was being cooked up, but the beauty of the entire series of events is the awesome coordination and understanding between the members of the peafowl family. It was nature at its best and my urge to experience more by the day is getting higher.

Image Source : Google

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