I Turn On My Peacock

I know this title seems charged with sexual innuendo just to catch your attention so you’ll keep reading. Sadly, the title is entirely true. (Also, I want to catch your attention so you’ll keep reading.)

Our peacock Ben really does find me attractive, which I find unnerving. Peacocks routinely fan their feathers for the benefit of peahens, the message being: Aren’t I beautiful? Let’s breed. If there are no peahens, a peacock may fan for a particularly appealing duck. If desperate, peacocks have even been known to fan for a mere chicken.

Melissa does chores six days a week, so she’s part of Ben’s routine, and he rarely fans when she’s around. But when I do chores, it’s been six days since Ben has seen me, so I’m often the New Babe on the Block. I trudge through the huge bird pen, step inside the ten-by-ten foot shelter, then say Ben’s name. His head snaps up and he leaps down from his perch. Whump. Then he fans out his feathers. Whoosh. Then he drums his tail feathers. Frrrrrrrrt. He adjusts his position as I move about the shelter so I always have a full-on view of his brilliance. He stamps his feet, rattles those tail feathers again. Aren’t I beautiful? Let’s breed.

Let’s not, I reply. But there is no denying Ben is stunning. I don’t want to get into a long discussion about my spiritual beliefs, or non-beliefs, but if anyone, or anything, had a hand in designing peacocks, He or She was clearly showing off.

Ben’s long, slender neck is irridescent blue, the oval of lime green feathers directly behind setting the blue off nicely. His massive fanned tail is a study in symmetry of round, blue eyes. The rest of each feather is made of whispy pinkish-green fronds that stir with the breeze. What’s most amazing, however, is that the bottom edge of his plumage is a perfect horizontal line of eyes stretching from one corner of the fan to the other. Today one of these bottom feathers is out of place, but I pretend not to notice.

If Melissa wants a visitor to see Ben’s plumage, she sometimes comes to get me. When the visitors are positioned, I step into the shelter. “Hey, Ben.” His head snaps up and he leaps down from his perch. Whump. Then he fans out his feathers. Whoosh. Then he drums his back feathers. Frrrrrrrrt. Aren’t I beautiful? Let’s breed.

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