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PEAFOWL

THESE birds, which originally came from India, used to be treated as poultry before the introduction of the turkey, which is larger and more easily reared in numbers. They are just as good to eat, and, as many people keep only a single male bird for ornament, or at most a pair, the surplus peahens are still used for the table. The cock does not obtain his full plumage till three years old, at which age he is past his prime as a table bird even if one felt inclined to sacrifice him.

Peafowl need only a feed of corn daily, as they should always be allowed free range and left to manage their affairs like wild birds. They are quite hardy, and will roost in the trees. The hen lays one sitting of cream-coloured eggs a year, and sits for a month. She hides her nest carefully, and is a most devoted mother, keeping her chicks with her for a whole year. The young cocks can be distinguished before their first Christmas by having the first quills of the wing bright auburn in colour and by having bluer necks than the hens.

When first introduced to a place, peafowl should be shut up for a week or so or they may wander off; they usually walk, but can fly vigorously for a short distance and no fence will keep them in unless their wings are clipped.

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