During his stay in India where he was studying the Bengal tiger and counting their stripes, Sir Winslow came to know many other creatures. One of these animals was the peacock.
On the edge of the jungle where the base camp was set, a flock of peacocks had been pecking in the brush. Their iridescent feathers glistened in the sunlight and it was impossible to not be mesmerized by the sight.
However, during the night, it was a rather noisy neighbor. It has a horrible “CAW CAKKKKKKK” that kept the explorers awake for hours. Sir Winslow knew that something had to be done or he would miscount the stripes of the tiger.
After asking some of the people who lived nearby in a village, it turned out that peacocks have a hard time making friends. Well, Sir Winslow thought he knew how to fix that problem! He took some grain from the supply wagon and set out a bowl near the flock. Sure enough, a few of the hens came to check out the bowl and pecked at the grain. After a couple nights of moving the bowl closer to the camp and speaking in gentle tones to the birds, they seemed to be calming down.
Now that Sir Winslow and the people in his party had made friends with the peacocks, they found it easier to study their habits. During the hottest part of the day, the peafowl goes into the jungle and roost in the branches. At night they come back into the open where they have their nests on the ground.
Another interesting thing Sir Winslow discovered was the tail feathers are shed after mating season. Lady Jane thought the brilliant plumage would look lovely on a bonnet and so they were able to collect many of the feathers to take home to Windy Willows in England.
Sketches of their time with the peacocks can be found in the library at Windy Willows. I was able to use the drawings and notes to create the peacock pillow that you can now purchase from Sir Winslow’s Zoo.