The Peacock – The National Bird Of India

An indian peacock struts along a forest floor, Tamil Nadu, India.

On my last trip to India, I was fortunate enough to have some great sightings of India’s national bird, the peacock (or rather more correctly, the Indian Peafowl (to be fair to both sexes))! In the United States, these birds are often relegated to free roaming status in zoos, so it was nice to see some in their natural habitat.

An indian peacock perches in a tree, tail feathers trailing below, Tamil Nadu, India.
An indian peacock perches in a tree, tail feathers trailing below, Tamil Nadu, India.

While feathers from the peacock are sought after due to their amazing colors and iridescence, I saw peahens showing off as well.

An indian peahen perches atop a stone pillar, Tamil Nadu, India.
An indian peahen perches atop a stone pillar, Tamil Nadu, India.

One thing that became apparent as soon as I started photographing was that these wild peacocks were extremely skittish and agitated. Any time I tried to approach on foot, they would scamper off into the jungle.

An indian peacock struts along a forest floor, Tamil Nadu, India.
An indian peacock struts along a forest floor, Tamil Nadu, India.

Only by shooting from the window of a car was I able to get close. The “mobile blind” technique often works well with many types of wildlife, though it is essential to have an experienced driver who knows how to slowly creep up on the subject without spooking it.

An indian peacock struts along a forest floor, Tamil Nadu, India.
An indian peacock struts along a forest floor, Tamil Nadu, India.

When you can catch the peacock feathers in the right light, the brilliant colors almost glow. Here you have to be careful about light angles, because at the wrong angle, you can get unwanted glare from the reflective surface of these iridescent feathers.

An indian peacock perches atop a wooden fencepost, Tamil Nadu, India.
An indian peacock perches atop a wooden fencepost, Tamil Nadu, India.

I looked for opportunities like the shot above to showcase peacocks off the ground. Here the males can let the full glory of their tail feathers hang to the ground. This was taken at a meditation center in southern Tamil Nadu that doubled as a sanctuary for these wild birds.

An indian peacock struts along open ground looking for food, Tamil Nadu, India.
An indian peacock struts along open ground looking for food, Tamil Nadu, India.

While I photographed many peacocks over the course of three days, one shot I wanted but didn’t get was that of a male displaying to female. I did see this display in action, but wasn’t able to photograph it well as the birds were stationed behind a wire fence. I figure its always good to want more – all the more reason to keep me coming back in the future!

Gear I used to create the photos in this post:

India 2016 Gallery

India 2016

An indian peacock walks through short grass, Mudumalai National Park, India.

I’ve finished processing my photos from a short trip to India last month. Here is a gallery of some of my favorite shots. It was a whirlwind trip through the southern state of Tamil Nadu, visiting Mudumalai National Park, Ooty, Coimbatore, Azhagappapuram, Nagercoil and Kanyakumari. These photos were shot over the course of four busy days. Click each image to see the next, or use your keyboard arrows to navigate.

Peacock In Full Display (Photo of the week)

A peacock displays its plumage during mating season
A peacock displays its plumage during mating season

This week’s photo was taken this spring at the San Francisco Zoo. Many zoos across the country allow peacocks to roam free amongst the visitors and animal exhibits. On this day I was lucky enough to witness 15 separate plumage displays, as the males were trying to catch the attention of the hens.

Although people “ohh” and “ahh” over the beautiful colors of the feathers when displayed from the front side, it is actually the tail and backside of the feathers that is meant to attract potential mates. When in full display, peacocks will often slowly turn in a circle, in order to show off its backside in as many directions as possible.