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For my sister, Judy

(Explore #146: Jul 27, 2009)


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It was so wonderful seeing you again, Judes. Safe flight back home to Toronto!


See her photostream here:


The details of this peacock feather appear even more beautiful under the large "magnifying" waterdrop.


The male peafowl, or peacock, has long been known and valued for its brilliant tail feathers. The bright spots on it are known as "eyes", and inspired the Greek myth that Hera placed the hundred eyes of her slain giant Argus on the tail of her favorite bird.


Indian Peafowl is iridescent blue-green or blue in the head, neck and breast. The back, or scapular, feathers are vermiculated in black and white, while the primaries are orange-chestnut. The so-called "tail" of the peacock, also termed the "train," is not the tail quill feathers but highly elongated upper tail feather coverts. It is mostly bronze-green, with a series of eyes that are best seen when the train is fanned. The actual tail feathers are short and grey-coloured and can be seen from behind when a peacock's train is fanned in a courtship display. During the molting season, the males shed their stunning train feathers and reveal the unassuming grey-coloured tail which is normally hidden from view beneath the train. Both species have a crest atop the head which is also present in the females. [...]


Many of the brilliant colours of the peacock plumage are due to an optical interference phenomenon (Bragg reflection) based on (nearly) periodic nanostructures found in the barbules (fiber-like components) of the feathers. Such interference-based structural colour is especially important in producing the peacock's iridescent hues (which shimmer and change with viewing angle), since interference effects depend upon the angle of light, unlike chemical pigments.


Still have a houseful of guests. Have a wonderful day and thanks for visiting! HBW!


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Taken on July 5, 2009