Sri Lanka – Been There

Proud as a peacock

The peacock, such as this one at Wilpattu National Park, is native to Sri Lanka and was once considered a delicacy but are now treasured as ornamental decoration in gardens. They hold a special place for Sri Lankan Hindus because Skanda, the God of Katharagama, sits astride a peacock with his wives.

Photo by Jochem Wijnands

Sri Lanka – Been There

Proud as a peacock

As I am driving through Wilpattu National Park, on the lookout for the illustrious leopard, an amazing spectacle catches my eye.

Jochem Wijnands
Jochem Wijnands Founder / photographer

Just at the side of the road a peacock is opening his feathers, shaking his tail and calling out in loud aggressive bursts. Completely fanned out, the tail spreads behind the peacock in a full semicircle. The dozen or so peahens at first seem overwhelmed.

I don't blame them when all of a sudden a hundred eyes stare at them from the peacocks tail in the brightest colors imaginable. But then they return to grazing, ignoring the display all together.

The peacock dances back and forth but all the ladies do is politely step aside and then continue with their business. He decides to zoom in on one attractive individual, isolating her from the others. He walks to her with a swagger while rustling his wing feathers. It looks like he can hardly control himself. And why all the fuss, I wonder, as there is no competitor in sight?

Then, after about five minutes, the peacock drops his feathers and it is all over. As he quietly joins the group, he looks exhausted and rather embarrassed.