One of my greatest wishes for the pet zoo was to have some peacocks. Yes, and I called them peacocks because I knew nothing about them. When I actually got some and did research, I realised only the males are called peacocks. The females are called peahens and the common word for both sexes is peafowl. Then I found out their chicks are called peachicks. I couldn’t get over the cuteness and beauty of that word. What wonderful consistency and continuation! All poultry should be so sensibly named!
So there we are. Last summer, we managed to buy a trio of peachicks. They were the most adorable, wonderful creatures. They were striped and had little crowns on their heads.
For weeks, I did nothing but read about peafowl. If I wasn’t actually in the pet zoo, sitting and staring at them adoringly. Trying to figure out if they were males or females, I learned that male peachicks are more stripey and have rust-coloured wing feathers. The girls slowly lose their stripey feathers as they grow. The chick in the front in the above picture is a male, the other two are females.
I was so pleased to learn we had a male and two females! What a perfect combination. In my mind, the peacock was already showing off his train while the peahens were busy raising his peachicks (see, what a lovely sentence!)
Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way. The place that sold us the peachicks wasn’t so great. We also bought three silkies there and three mixed breed hens. Of those six, only three survived. The others turned out to be sick and died soon after we got them. And our little peacock also got sick. I found him sitting hunched up, both his eyes were swollen and stuck shut. I took him home and called the vet in a state of high anxiety. What can I do for him, how can I make sure he lives..?
It turned out he had not only a severe (contagious) respiratory infection, he was also infested by worms and leg mites. He got antibiotics, a shot of ivermectin and worm paste.
I have never fought so hard for the life of a bird. For weeks, I gave him the medicines, fed him water with a syringe and kept him separate from the others. I took him home and watched over him. But it didn’t matter. He got weaker and weaker, and while his sisters grew and thrived, he stayed small. In the end, I found him dead in the cage. I shed many tears over that little lifeless body.
But life goes on. Fortunately, the two girls were doing perfectly well. After a few months, we managed to find another male of the same age. They got on famously and the new male was healthy and beautiful. I even started thinking it might be better this way – at least they are not related, so no inbreeding.
Now, the peas are about a year old and they are getting more colourful and beautiful by the week! They are too young to breed and the peacock doesn’t have a train yet, but that doesn’t stop him trying to display. Actually, the peahens display as well. They seem to do it to impress other animals they find vaguely threatening, such as cats, loose rabbits or crows.
They are magnificent creatures and we love them! They fly very well and sleep in the highest tree they can find at night. They go out of the enclosure sometimes, but not nearly as often as the guinea fowl and they always stay close. I am sometimes afraid of losing them, but I will not confine them. They have to stay as they are – free and happy. 💚