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( Originally Published 1894 )
The Peacock has been famous in the East from before the days of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, and has been much affected in England in more recent years, on account of its beauty, as an adornment of English lawns, and as a royal dainty upon the festive board. It may be said still to keep its place as an ornament of the park, but it is no longer the choice of the epicure and seldom appears at the feast. It is said to have come originally from Persia and has doubtless reached the west from India where it still abounds. Colonel Williamson says that he has seen, in the passes of the Jungletery district, as many as twelve or fifteen hundred pea-fowls of various sizes within sight of one spot. The gorgeous plumes that adorn the Peacock, "says Mr. Wood, "do not compose the tail, as many suppose, but are only the tail-coverts. The tail feathers themselves are short and rigid, and serve to keep the train spread, as may be seen when the bird walks about in all the majesty of his expanded plumage. Although pea-fowl seek their food on the ground, they invariably roost on some elevated situation, such as a high branch, or the roof of a barn or haystack." The peacock is swift of foot, but heavy on the wing, and remains ordinarily on the ground, where it finds its food. It has a harsh voice. The peahen is a plain, homely looking bird, lacking the gorgeous tail which adorns her lord and master. Guillim, an old writer quoted by Captain Brown, says: "The Peacock is so proud, that when he erecteth his fan of plumes, he admireth himself. He displayeth his plumes against the rays of the sun, that they may glister the more gloriously: and he loseth this beautiful train yearly with the fall of the leaf; at which time he becometh bashful, and seeketh corners, where he may be secret from the sight of men, until the spring of the year, when his train beginneth to be renewed. And such is the quality of many dames, who being painted and richly attired, cannot keep within doors; but being undressed, and in their own hue, they are loath any man should see them."