The Suitcase Lady


May 4, 2021, 9:39 pm

A peacock came in the mail last Thursday. He’s a beautiful boy, and I will be putting him to work. My peacock is a puppet whose job will be demonstrating to children one of the uses of animals’ tails.

All across America, this summer’s library reading program theme is Tails & Tales. Even though much programming will be video, the important business of keeping kids engaged with reading, libraries and ideas goes on. I’ve been busy researching and writing a program, and I’ve learned much more than I possibly could or should share with kids…especially on the topic of peacock tails.

The obvious use of the male peacock’s over-the-top, iridescent tail feathers is to impress a girl. These guys have impressed us as well. We all commonly think of the word “peacock” as referring to a species of bird. Turns out it is not. A peacock is a male peafowl. The female peafowl is called a peahen, and the babies are peachicks. The peafowl are members of the pheasant family of birds.

Showtime for the peacock is spring when they and the peahens gather in groups. The guys’ tails are the stars of the show. These spectacular appendages can have up to 150 feathers as long as 6 feet and end in an “eye”. Collectively, the tail feathers are known as a train.

The males strut about, raise and fan out their tail feathers and start to shake their entire tail. They rattle their tails 25 times per second which produces more iridescence plus mechanical sound. Biologists have proven that this display has “a hypnotic effect that lures the females.”

The peahens are, however, fussy about who they select. They walk about checking for the guys with the flashiest feathers. An impressive display of feathers indicates physical fitness and healthy offspring. Girls are not shy about chasing other peahens away from their selected mates

When mating occurs, the peacock jumps up on the lady’s back and accomplishes his mission in a matter of seconds. Then he is off to mate with more women and create a harem. The peahens do all the rest of the work of building a nest, incubating the eggs and raising the young. Beauty enables creatures of many species to get away with a lot.

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