The Glittering Star of the Bird Show
BY AWAKE! WRITER IN SPAIN
THE peacock steps out in front of a glorious curtain of color as if he were the star of a new theater production. Resplendent feathers, five times the length of his body, rise from his back and shimmer in the sunlight.
This majestic sight is the peacock’s courtship ritual. As the spectacle reaches its climax, his tail feathers begin to vibrate, making a rustling sound that apparently contributes to the success of the show. How could his prospective mate possibly resist what has been described as ‘the most magnificent advertisement in the world’?
The peacock, however, will put on his show for onlookers who are not prospective mates. “Naturalists have confirmed that peacocks display more often and for longer periods of time in front of groups of people than they do in the presence of hens,” comments the work Wonders of Peacocks. Perhaps the peacock’s proverbial reputation for pride stems from this readiness to display all his finery.
And why not? His show is undoubtedly worth watching. The peacock’s long tail coverts, dotted with sparkling eyespots, are of different lengths, enabling them to form a perfectly shaped fan. Depending on the angle of the sun’s rays, the color of these feathers ranges from copper, bronze, and gold to deep blue-green and violet.
In Western lands, where the peacock’s primary purpose in life seems to be to strut about showing off his feathers, people might assume that the bird has few other useful traits. In his native India, however, villagers also value him as an effective predator of young cobras and other poisonous snakes. His apparent insensitivity to the cobra’s venom has made the peacock a symbol of divinity and immortality in the Orient.
Some 3,000 years ago, the peacock was highly prized in the Middle East. King Solomon imported peacocks, along with other valuable merchandise such as ‘gold, silver, and ivory.’ (1 Kings 10:22) “The importation by Solomon was probably the first introduction of the Peafowl to the Mediterranean countries,” notes the book The Natural History of the Bible. A few centuries later, peacocks impressed Alexander the Great so much that he forbade any of his soldiers to kill them.
Even today few people remain unmoved by the peacock’s unique show. And we must not ignore the show’s Producer. As an artist’s skill is reflected in his works, so the artistic originality of our Creator is clearly manifested in this jewel among his creatures.
[Full-page picture on page 17]
[Picture Credit Line on page 16]
Cortesía del Zoo de la Casa de Campo, Madrid