Tag Archives: Mating Strategies

Break with Tradition and Choose Your Own Bliss

Once upon a time there was a young peacock, named Roberto. He was a happy peacock, he got enough food, and he had enough friends to play with. One of his favorite games to play with his friends was go see how close they could get to the alligators before running away. Because peacocks can’t fly, it was extremely fun to have to scurry quickly away before getting eaten by the alligator. They didn’t know anybody that had actually been eaten by the alligators, but they all heard of a friend of a next-door neighbors cousin that had tripped while running away, and had never been seen or heard from again. Perhaps this was just a story, or maybe there is some truth to this. Either way they were able to use this to have fun while playing and running away from the alligators.

Lately, though, the young peacocks were talking about a great big meeting of the adult peacocks. Apparently the men and the women would go and meet in a special place, and they would do some kind of secret adult peacock ritual thing, like church or something. The young peacocks didn’t really know what it was all about. And they were too scared to ask the peahens, because well, everybody knows that peacocks and peahens don’t hang out together. It just isn’t cool.

That’s when the rumors started. They said that when young peacocks turn into adults, their feathers change colors. And depending on how much their feathers change, they will become really popular, or not so popular, depending on the color. This caused a great deal of confusion among the young peacocks. Weren’t they already popular? Why did your feathers have anything to do with whether people liked you or not? Pretty soon the two groups, the young peacocks and the young peahens would gather. The peacocks were certain that the peahens were talking about them. They were always whispering and pointing and giggling.

Then one horrible day, young Roberto learned the terrible truth. His father took him aside, and told him how things really were.

“Son, some day you are going to grow some extra feathers. And if you grow really good feathers, you will be popular.”
Roberto gulped, too afraid to ask what would happen if he didn’t grow “really good feathers,” whatever that meant.
His father seemed to sense his apprehension.
“Don’t worry son, you’ll be fine. My father had good feathers, his father had good feathers, and my feathers aren’t too shabby. You’ll be allright.”
Young Roberto, however, wasn’t convinced.
“But what happens if I don’t?”
His father only stood, and walked away.

Three weeks later, Roberto noticed that his feathers were indeed changing. He rushed to meet his friends, some of them also had changing feathers, and some didn’t. They were all confused, and scared. The peahens continued to gather and giggle and point. With every passing day, Roberto and his friends grew more and more anxious. Then one night, he got up the courage to speak with his father.

“Why do they only care about feathers? Isn’t anything else important?” Roberto asked.
His father scratched his head.
“I don’t know son, that’s the way it’s always been.”
“But does it have to be that way?” Robert asked, sensing that his father didn’t have the answers he was looking for.
“I think it does. That’s the way it has always been.” He answered, sounding unsure of himself.
Roberto wasn’t convinced. At all.

The next day he decided to try something different. He gathered his friends, and his courage. He stood up to speak to them.

“Just because everybody before has only cared about feathers, doesn’t mean it has to be that way. You are more than your feathers. It doesn’t matter if your feathers are blue, or green, or the same stupid color as they are now. Who you are on the inside is more important. Your ideas and dreams and goals are what are important. If somebody thinks you are popular only because of your feathers, that’s their problem.”

The crowd of young peacocks was joined, for the first time, by a few brave peahens.

“You mean we can choose on something besides feathers?” A peahen asked.
“Yes!” Roberto answered, the crowd starting to cheer him.
“You can choose based on whatever you want! You don’t have to choose based only on what people before you chose!” The crowd cheered again, the young peahens now mingling with all the young peacocks. They mingled and talked and explored each other’s personalities. Everybody was happy. Everybody was popular, in their own way.

The adult peacocks watched in interest, as the young peacocks and peahens broke with tradition to their own delight and happiness.

“Can they do that?” One older peacock with large, fading red feathers asked.
“I guess they can.” Said another, with a dull set of yellow and oranges feathers, and a large grin on his face.
“I guess they can do whatever they want.” He added.

And from that day on, peacock feathers became only an interesting footnote in peacock history.