|Pavo cristatus||Order: Galliformes||Family: Phasianidae (Pheasants, Grouse, and Allies)|
The vividly colored males, called peacocks, are popular in zoos and aviaries in America. The drabber females are called peahens. Males are exceptionally loud as well as flamboyant. When I first moved to Duluth, I heard calls at the Western Waterfront Trail which I instantly recognized from an episode of The Waltons in which Jim-Bob brought home a peacock he called Rover. That episode was one of the rare cases in which a television show accurately portrayed a bird call, which is lucky. The ones I heard in Duluth were calling more than a quarter mile away from me, at the Lake Superior Zoo.
Why do males have to lug around those ridiculously long and heavy tails? Darwin suggested that they serve to attract females, evolving by sexual selection. But Amotz Zahavi proposed that the long tail feathers are “honest signals” of the males’ fitness because only the fittest males could thrive with such heavy, conspicuous structures.