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Pavo(pay -voh) (Peacock) A constellation in the southern hemisphere near Grus, the brightest stars being the 1st-magnitude spectroscopic binary Alpha (α) Pavonis and several 3rd-magnitude stars. It contains several variables, including the bright Cepheid variable Kappa (κ) Pavonis, and the large bright globular cluster NGC 6752. Abbrev.: Pav; genitive form: Pavonis; approx. position: RA 19.5h, dec –65°; area: 378 sq deg.
(peafowl; more commonly called peacocks), a genus of birds of the family Phasianidae of the order Galliformes. The genus contains two species: the Indian, or blue, peacock (P. cristatus) and the Javan, or green, peacock (P. muticus).
Indian peacock males have a body length of 100 to 125 cm and a tail length of 40 to 45 cm. The tail has a train of upper tail coverts (often mistaken for tail feathers), which is decorated with “eyes” and reaches a length of 120 to 130 cm. The male weighs between 4 and 4.25 kg. The head, neck, and part of the chest are blue. The back is green, and the underparts are black. The female, or peahen, is smaller than the male; it also is less colorful and lacks a train. The Indian peacock is distributed on the Hindustan Peninsula south of the Himalayas (it does not inhabit high mountains) and on Sri Lanka.
The Javan peacock is more brightly colored than the Indian peacock. The female differs only slightly from the male in coloration. The species is encountered in Indochina, Malacca, and Sumatra.
Peacocks inhabit thickets, forest clearings, and riverbanks. They are polygamous, with the male gathering a harem of three to five females. The females nest on the ground, laying five or six eggs. The eggs are incubated by the female for 27 to 30 days.
Peacocks feed mainly on vegetable matter; animal substances in their diet include insects, mollusks, and small vertebrates.
Peacocks are often kept as ornamental birds. In India they have been semidomesticated. Peacocks probably were imported into Greece in the fifth century.
The Congo peacock (Afropavo congensis), a species closely related to the Indian and Javan peacocks, was discovered in 1936 in the forests of the Congo River basin.
A. I. IVANOV