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Manu Minute: How did the peacock get its tail?

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In spite of their lavish appearance, Indian peafowl are actually quite common. Native to India and Sri Lanka, these birds have been introduced throughout the world.

They were brought to Hawaiʻi in the mid-19th century, where they made quite the splash with Princess Kaʻiulani. She adored the birds and kept several at her ʻĀinahau estate. The peafowl shared those gardens with another of the princess's imported favorites: Arabian jasmine. In ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi, pīkake is the name for both the fragrant flower and the marvelous bird.

Though these birds often keep company with royalty, they're not particularly picky about where they live or what they eat. They make their home in a variety of habitats around Hawaiʻi, including neighborhoods, parks, and woodlands. Their omnivorous diet includes fruits, grains, insects, and even small vertebrates like lizards and coqui frogs.

Listen to today's Manu Minute to hear more about why peafowl have such extravagant tails!

AMTJ_Indian peafowl Spectrogram video.mp4

Audio credit: Peter Boesman/Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology (ML283390)

Patrick Hart is the host of HPR's Manu Minute. He runs the Listening Observatory for Hawaiian Ecosystems (LOHE) Lab at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo.
Ann Tanimoto-Johnson is the Lab Manager & Research Technician in the Hart Lab/Listening Observatory for Hawaiian Ecosystems (LOHE) Bioacoustics Lab. She researches the ecology, bioacoustics, and conservation of our native Hawaiian forests, birds, and bats.
Savannah Harriman-Pote is the energy and climate change reporter. She is also the lead producer of HPR's "This Is Our Hawaiʻi" podcast. Contact her at sharrimanpote@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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