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Thursday, August 31, 2006

Nesting of captive Indian Peafowl

Nesting of captive Indian Peafowl

Indian Peafowl (Pavo cristatus), also known as Common Peafowl and Indian Peacock, are popular with parks and zoos worldwide. They are free ranging birds and are easily kept. The Singapore Zoological Garden’s peafowl frequently fly off to the nearby forest area along Mandai Lake Road to forage.
Lately, Meng and Melinda Chan came across a peahen that flew over to lay her eggs. The bird chose a large bird’s nest fern (Asplenium nidus) that grew on a raised tree stump to lay four eggs that were larger than chicken eggs. She was sitting on the fern incubating her eggs. The male was nowhere in sight.

According to the literature the female peafowl usually lays her eggs in a shallow scrape of ground and incubates them herself. The male seeks other females immediately after copulation.
Peahen generally attracts attention in Singapore and one laying eggs attracts more attention. Was it a wonder then that one egg was earlier destroyed by someone and another pinched by an irresponsible person?

On that morning in early July 2006 when Meng and Melinda were there, they found a broken egg on the ground below the incubating bird. Melinda wondered, “…could the egg have rolled down from the nest and broke? Was it possible that the bird rejected the egg since someone was earlier seen handling it?”The bird later abandoned her last egg as she was seen wandering about and not incubating in her nest.

Apparently this was the second observed nesting. The first happened one month earlier when two eggs were laid on another bird’s nest fern. Unfortunately the eggs rolled down from the fern within a day they were laid.

Our bird specialist R. Subaraj has this to say: “This species is on my Singapore checklist due to the free-ranging population on Sentosa fulfilling the three criteria for Introduced Species. On Sentosa, there are several records over the years of young chicks accompanying females.”

Thank you Meng and Melinda Chan for the account and the images. The top image of a peacock in the Singapore Zoo is by YC.



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