Peacocks are renowned creatures who are mostly known for their elegance and exquisite beauty. When we hear the word ‘peacock,’ the picture of an exalted big, blue bird shows up in our mind. But their collection of vibrant, eye-patterned, tail feathers are what makes them look so dazzling and attractive.
But many of us are not familiar with the rare creature of utter majesty, that is, the white peacock. They mightn’t be rich with eye-catching colors, but that doesn’t meddle with their aesthetics at all. Get excited as you’ll discover more about the sensational white peacocks – all the facts and pictures right in this article.
Busting the Albino Myth
Albino animals are unable to create any sort of pigmentation in their body. This causes sporadic or complete white coloration in their body along with pinkish eyes. Pink eyes occur because the red blood vessels in their eyes can’t be masked due to the absence of eye color.
White peafowls are not albino creatures, and they’re no different than normal peafowls. Due to a genetic variation, white peafowls get their complete white body color.
This gene mutation is called leucism. Unlike albino creatures, peafowls affected with leucism retain their blue eye color. It’s the feather that loses pigmentation due to this condition, providing a different but not any less remarkable appearance.
Leucism doesn’t always cause losing pigmentation throughout the whole body. Patches of colors within white can be seen in some peafowls, giving them a mystical look. Also, peachicks with leucism are born yellow rather than white. As they grow up to mature, the white coloring vivifies slowly.
What’s interesting is that leucism is more frequent in the captive creatures rather than in the ones out in the wild. This genetic variation is not only seen in peafowls but also in deer, giraffes, buffaloes, horses, and many other animals and birds.
Besides completely white and patched blue in white coloring, spots of black within white coloring are also rarely seen in peafowls. Mutated peacocks are very rare and can hardly be seen in the wild. That’s why they carry so many sacred symbols in different regions and religions, which I’ll discuss later in this article.
Facts and Features
White and blue Indian peacocks usually get to be 39-45 inches tall, while the peahens are slightly shorter at 37-40 inches. They have a lifespan of 10-25 years. Domesticated peacocks can live more than 25 years with good care and diet.
Usually, peafowls are peace-loving creatures. They often don’t attack humans or other animals if it’s not for hunting reasons. But if it comes to their nest, eggs, or offsprings, peacocks can be extremely protective. They’ll attack anything that tries to trespass on their territory.
Peacocks also get super aggressive during their mating season, especially the white ones as they’re not usually prioritized by the peahens for courtship.
History of Origin
Peafowls have three species, and all of those three belong to Phasianidae, the pheasant family of birds. The Pheasant family includes the wild fowls from which the domestic chickens came.
Amidst three classes of peafowl, at-least two of them are native to the tropical forests of South-East Asia, and one is native to the land of Africa. The South-East Asian peafowls are the most renowned ones for their flamboyance.
One of them is the class of green peafowls found in Myanmar, Java, and other areas in the vicinity. Their binomial scientific name is Pavo muticus.
And the other one is the majestic blue peacocks, which originated from the land of India. Indian peafowls (Pavo cristatus) are known to be the only class among the three in which leucism occurs.
During the period of British colonization in the Indian sub-continent, British merchants and lords helped the spread of the Indian peacocks into the European countries and America. As they started to keep some of these birds captive, a very rare number of newborns started to show this white coloring.
Before that, white peacocks were hardly seen in India, but it’s evident that they existed in an exceptionally small number. White peacocks were so rare that in many cultures, they were considered mythical creatures.
Why Peacocks and Not Peafowls?
Most of you’re probably aware of this that the flamboyant ones with the colorful collection of vivid tail feathers are the male peafowls or peacocks. Peahens are significantly less captivating than peacocks, as they have a shorter tail with usual-looking feathers.
Peahens also don’t show off their beauty like the male ones, but it’s not because of shame or anything like that. Rather the peacocks show off their beauty by fanning out their collection of feathers to impress the female ones.
There are several theories about how a peahen chooses her partner in courtship. Some of these theories say that during the partner selection process, a peahen considers factors like protection, shelter territory, and nuptial gifts.
Another theory says a peahen would want a partner that has superior genes. And how do they decide that? From a peahen’s perspective, a male peafowl with the most vibrant coloring and largest feathers in the tail has the best genes.
The inclination towards superior genes is because better genes will be good for the descendants and suitable for the female partner’s reproductive success.
So, the purpose of such delicacy in a peacock’s appearance is to get an advantage in courtship. White peacocks have an extra feature that makes them even more mystical. Their feathers are equipped with tiny shiny crystals, which sparkle when sunlight falls upon them.
As white peacocks are actually the same species as blue peacocks, their dietary traits are similar. Peacocks aren’t picky about their food at all. They often eat anything they can access with their beaks and digest, which makes them fine omnivores.
Peacocks eat both plant-based foods and live creatures. Among plant-based foods, they eat flower petals, plant leaves, seeds, grains, grasses, fruits like berries, figs, etc.
Peafowls don’t like to wander in the sun, and that’s why they hunt for their food either very early in the morning or around sunset. During the hot portion of the day, they relax somewhere cool and shadowy.
Besides plants, peacocks love to eat live creatures like insects and small mammals. Among insects, they aggressively hunt for ants, crickets, and termites, as well as millipedes and other arthropods. Small snakes are also eaten by peafowl around India.
Peacocks are also very decent fishermen. They like to hunt for small fishes in small and still water sources. When it comes to feeding domesticated peafowls, it’s not much of a hassle as they can devour various types of foods, but there are certain foods that most birds, including peafowls, can’t sustain.
Domesticated peafowls like to eat cracked grains like oats and maize. They also like to eat cheese, bread, and cooked rice. Some of them even like to eat cat food.
Keepers have discovered that peafowls also love protein-rich foods such as larvae that infest crops and various types of meat. Various fruits, as well as vegetables, such as dark leafy greens, beets, carrots, broccoli, beans, and peas are in their list as well.
Avoid feeding avocados, chocolates, onions, garlic, salt, and caffeine to a domestic peafowl. These foods often don’t suit the digestive system of the peafowls and can cause various health problems.
Habitat and Nesting Habits
Naturally, all peafowls like to build their habitat out in the woods and deep forests. But they can adapt surprisingly well to different environments, including the domestic ones.
A peahen lays 3-6 eggs per nesting attempt. This number is called clutch size for a bird. Annually a peahen goes for one clutch only. Although peafowls build their nest on the ground for laying eggs and hatching them, they choose tall trees to build perches for keeping the eggs and chicks safe from other animals.
Late winter to spring is the most appropriate time for the peafowls to build their nests and perches. A peachick will be able to fly in only 3 days after they’re hatched from the egg, although they can travel very short distances at first.
White peacocks are extremely rare not only because of the slim chances of their birth but also of the fact that it is tougher for the white peacocks to entice a female peafowl into courtship.
If both of the parents have mutated genes of leucism, all the chicks will be born white peacocks. Although, to be accurate, they’ll be born yellow and become white later on. If one of the parent peafowls is white, then the kids might be born patched, completely white, or completely colored.
Genes of leucism can often be latent in a peafowl. So, even if both parents are of natural color, most bred peachicks will be of natural color. So, a case of leucism is extremely rare.
Currently, the number of white peafowls existing in the world isn’t known exactly. Almost all of them are in captivity around the world.
Symbolism and Cultural Significance
Because of their rarity and mystical guise, white peacocks have captured a lot of symbolism in different cultures and religions long before. Different cultures have already attached special meanings and significances to peacocks in general, and the symbolizations related to white peacocks are significantly distinct from them.
Peacocks, in general, bear a great significance in the culture of shamanism. Shamans believe that certain peacock medicine made with a special process can provide them the power of clairvoyance.
The order of white peacocks in shamanism culture is said to be an ancient order of the shamans that have come from the planet Venus. Shamans believe the temple of this order is protected by some white peacocks, who alert everyone by crying out when someone approaches the temple.
In various old temples, artworks, and mosaics, white peacock is showed as the embodiment of Jesus Christ. As the white peacock symbolizes eternal life, death as well as resurrection in Christian culture, these concepts are highly associated with the life of Christ.
The white peacock also bears the symbol of glory, royalty, and purity of heart which are some of the noblest sides of Jesus Christ.
Besides Jesus Christ himself, the white hue of the white peacocks represents the symbol of awakening or enlightenment in Christian culture. There’s a beautiful literary name for it, called the ‘Christ Consciousness.’
This awakening symbolizes the purification of a person’s heart as he/she finds his/her way toward the light of God.
Nirvana and Good Luck
In Buddhism, white peacocks are the symbols of nirvana. Not the band Nirvana! In Buddhism, nirvana is the name of a state of mind where the person isn’t bound by any materialistic concepts like desire, want, or suffering. The person also gives up the concept of self and becomes free from the cycle of life-death and karma.
In Asian countries like China, Japan, and India, people find this bird very sacred. They often believe white peacocks to be the bringer of good luck and the watcher who is protecting their households.
As blue peacocks are native to India, there are a lot of symbols in Hinduism as well as Indian culture related to peacocks. White peacocks in Hinduism are considered to be the symbol of spirituality.
Besides all these religious and cultural embodiments, white peacocks are also associated with various superstitious beliefs all around the world. These beliefs are most prevalent in the land of India.
Peacock meats are not that tasty or tender, but they’re high in protein count. Peahen eggs are also rich in protein. As white peacocks are extremely rare, eating them would be a real waste, so they’re mostly kept captive as pets or in zoos domestically.
White peacocks might not be as resplendent as blue or green peacocks, but they’re astounding in their own style. Their clear white hue with fanned-out tail feathers brings the utmost peace and serenity to the spectator’s mind.
I believe this article provided you with enough information about the sensational white peacocks – all the facts and pictures. As white peacocks are rarely found in nature, precautions must be taken to preserve this boon of nature.