We all know about peacocks – they are basically glam rock pigeons. They strut, they preen, they are rotten show-offs. They have expended all their evolutionary energy in growing a whopping great tail and developing the hydraulics necessary to stick it up in the air and shake it at the objects of their ardour. It’s difficult not to attribute to them a little haughtiness, a la Captain Peacock of Grace Bros notoriety, but in reality they have very tiny brains, far too small to summon up any kind of comparison with others at anything but the most instinctual level.

Meanwhile, the peahen has all the disadvantages of the lumbering peacock with none of the plumage. Except, that is, for a little dandelion clock crest on their heads. It looks from a distance as if you could blow it away, or snip it off, strand by strand, with nail scissors. She loves me, she loves me not…

Both males and females are keen to get their beaks on free food. Few people seem worried by their pneumatic drills on the front of their lizard-like faces, but a swift search on You Tube confirms that they can be dangerous, especially to little kids. This is in keeping with their generally Jurassic air. I don’t know whether they remind me of dinosaurs or just computer-animated dinosaurs, but the resemblance is strong. They are unnerving, like Monster Munch-gobbling velociraptors. Their young are the same. One almost expects them to extend a neck frill and start hissing. Their corner of the park is pretty prehistoric-looking too, consisting mainly of ferns, a significant percentage of which have died.

Once you’ve got over the tail thing, and maybe seen them in congress (a very quick upper hand bum wiggle and bingo) the most impressive thing about peacocks, peahens and peababies is their dusk routine. Despite their size and excessive featherosity, they have the ability to fly as far as the nearest tree. It looks messy, this flight. Once they’re up, they’re safe from whatever they think might be after them. I suspect that whatever it is, it is long-extinct, because their preference is for a dead tree offering no foliage cover. It’s a strange sight, them sitting there, like bags on a branch, part of some schoolboy prank.

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