The image above comes from the Twitter account of a photography project, named Animal Life. They tweet on what they describe as “simply the most beautiful animals you’ve ever seen”. Their latest offering is of a white peacock, an extremely rare and regal bird, which lacks the ornate colouring of the usual kind of peacock.
The peacock (the females, which lack the distinctive tails, are called ‘peahens’) are endemic to India, where they are associated with royalty, pomp and glamour. Collectively, the species are actually known as ‘peafowl’ and it is the males which are famed for their alluring tail feathers, each one adorned with iridescent blue-green ‘eyes’. This is referred to by bird-lovers as a “train”.
The males are believed to use the feathers to attract females during the mating season, but recently some ornithologists has reported that peahens in fact pay little attention to the males’ shocking tail plumage. In any case, the feathers are widely admired by humans, who use them to fashion fans or as majestic additions to hats in millinery.
The white peacock is the result of an unusual genetic mutation which leads to albinism. This condition, which can affect both humans and many other animals including rabbits and snakes, results in the subject’s skin, feathers, or fur lacking any normal colour associated with its species – leaving behind a creature which is white or yellow in appearance. In mammals and some birds, including people, albinism also results in pink or reddish eyes.
The white peacock is highly sought after as a pet, but the birds form lifetime partnerships with their mates, and anyone who purchases white peacocks, or any other variant of the fowl, will have to buy them as a pair, otherwise the peafowl will become lonely and sick.
Here’s how one website describes the white (albino) peacock “…(they) have perfectly clean bodies. They do not have variegated feathers, and have pale red eyes. They dance beautifully, and resemble like a beautiful and dignified girl who is wearing a white wedding dress“
The white peacock does indeed look like a graceful bride looking her best in her wedding dress, as she shows off on her special day. They seem like a bunch of dandelion clocks have fused together and taken on a life of their own, moving like wispy clouds through the green luscious foliage and manicured lawns of an erstwhile maharajah’s palace grounds. I would not be surprised if brides-to-be soon start requesting a few white peacocks for their wedding venues, as they do add an appropriate feel to that special milestone of life.
The white peacock in motion, in a video by Chaitanya Bhandare – uploaded to YouTube on the 15th September 2007. The video also featured normally-coloured birds and was filmed at Osaka Zoo in Japan.
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