Born in woman’s hands, peacock has unique story

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Pat was lucky to emerge, strong and healthy, in September of last year.

By Lisanne Erickson

Pat naturally assumes that Lisanne is the mother peacock.

ORIENTAL — Spring is here and along with it, warmer weather, longer days and new beginnings. It’s an exciting time of the year because this is the start of mating season for our “peacocks.”

The males have been busy showcasing their bright colors and fanning their tail feathers to impress the peahens (females) and anything else! At times it can be tricky for the males to maintain their showy display, such as during the high wind gusts we’ve experienced recently, but they do not abandon their mission.

We started out several years ago with two pairs of India Blue peafowl (this is what the males and females are technically referred to in this species – and, by the way, the females are duller in color than the males and they do not have the long train of tail feathers).
It didn’t take long for us to realize that these birds carry recessive genes and can produce offspring (peachicks) that when full grown present themselves with different feather color patterns than the parents.


At the eight-month mark, Pat’s gender has not yet been determined!

Upon doing some research, I found out that there are an amazing 225-plus variations of feather color pattern that have been created by people selectively breeding these unique birds.

In the beginning, the yellow peachicks that hatched grew up to look like the regular India Blue female adults and the yellow/brownish ones grew up to look like the regular India Blue male adults. So . . . we thought that’s just how it was to figure them out! But a few years ago a wrench was thrown into our ‘Peachick Color Identification System.’

A yellow one hatched that grew up to show us it was a white peacock with blue eyes (the regular male India Blues have brown eyes and a lot of blue feathers). That was a surprise, which lead me to do some more research.

Since then, other chicks have hatched to become adults with slight feather color variations from the original parents. But we could usually tell by their coloring when they hatched if they were male or female. Then, something very different happened.

Pat hatched on September 9, 2017.

Pat’s egg was the last to be laid and it was late for mating season. It was an unusual mating season. Out of the five females in the pen, only a couple dozen eggs were laid and many were not fertile. Out of the ones that were, most stopped developing and only two hatched.

The first one to hatch died the next day. The last one hatched a few days later and was perfectly healthy and vibrant. This peachick was yellow like the typical India Blue females, and white male, that had hatched in the past. So we named it Pat until we could identify its gender as it matured.

So far, Pat has remained a bit of a mystery. Its feather coloring is coming in differently from the other adults here and therefore its gender has not been easy to determine based on our past ‘Peachick Color Identification System.’ As young chicks, there are no obvious personality traits to identify the males from females — for instance, both can fan out their tail feathers to display.
Someone even suggested using a pendulum to determine the gender – it went both ways. Even Uncle Google has been without the magic answer to solve the mystery of Pat.

However, nature will eventually end the suspense. If Pat is a Patrick, he will start to grow in his long train of tail feathers later this fall.

Since Pat hatched in my hands as the lone survivor of the 2017 peafowl mating season, we’ve made sure it hasn’t been isolated. As people have come into my shop to pick up or drop off their pets, I’d ask them “When was the last time you held a baby ‘peacock’? About 99.9 percent told me that they never have – most with a confused look marked with curiosity.

It has been amazing to see the transformation in many of these people’s faces as they’ve held Pat. From the moment they took it into their hands, like magic, a wave of peace and joy seemed to come over them.

Spring is an amazing time of the year. It begins a new cycle of life in and around all of us, as well as an appreciation of it. The warmer weather and longer days bring things back to life. The trees, flowers, birds and bees – they show us that we are all interconnected. We all have our cycles and are unique in our existence. Perhaps this is part of why so many have connected with Pat. S/he has helped to remind us that to truly live and enjoy the beauty of life is to just let go, embrace it and to breathe it in. What a breath of fresh air!

Lisanne Erickson is the owner of The Oriental Pet Parlour. Located just outside of Oriental, it is a licensed boarding, daycare and full service grooming facility serving a wide variety of species since 2003. For those who would like to see more pictures of Pat since it hatched in her hands (and held by many more as it has grown), check out The Oriental Pet Parlour Facebook page.

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