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Green Peafowl (Pavo muticus) - Wiki
Subject: Green Peafowl (Pavo muticus) - Wiki
Siamese Dragon-Indo-Chinese green peafowl, Pavo muticus imperator.jpg
Resolution: 1944x1296 File Size: 1282297 Bytes Date: 2007:01:24 23:33:13 Camera: Canon EOS 400D DIGITAL (Canon) F number: f/7.1 Exposure: 1/125 sec Focal Length: 72/1 Upload Date: 2007:09:29 05:49:26

Green Peafowl (Pavo muticus) - Wiki

Green Peafowl
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[Photo] Indo-Chinese green peafowl, Pavo muticus imperator. Date: January 24, 2007. Author: Frankyboy5. License: public domain

The Green Peafowl, Pavo muticus, also known as the Dragonbird, is a large member of the Galliformes order. Some new data suggests that the Green Peafowl is actually several species (Kermit Blackwood et al.). Any hard scientific data supporting multiple species remain unpublished and it is therefore currently classified as a single species with three subspecies; P. m. muticus (nominate), P. m. imperator and P. m. spicifer

While peafowl are often considered members of the pheasant family, recent molecular work has shown that the Phasianidae is paraphyletic, and that peafowl are not closely related to pheasants, grouse or turkeys. They are distantly related to junglefowl and francolins however, and share a common ancestor with Coturnix quail and Alectoris Rock Partridges. While this has yet to be published, the World Pheasant Association of Germany already lists peafowl as a distinct family.

Like other members of the genus Pavo, Green Peafowl is a colourful bird. Iridescent plumage may be a highly specialized form of crypsis that is useful in open forests and near water. Most predatory species like leopards and tigers, wild dogs, civets, owls and hawk-eagles that have been documented hunting peafowl do not have colour vision.

Green Peafowls are found today in Southeast Asia in easternmost northern India, Assam, mainland Myanmar, Tibet, Yunnan, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and on the island of Java in Indonesia. They are curiously absent from both Sumatra and Borneo.

The Green Peafowl is one of the two species in the genus Pavo, the other being the Blue or Indian Peafowl, commonly known as the Peacock. The Green Peafowl has a green (or blue) tufted crest, different in shape to the fanned crest of the Blue and an iridescent metallic gold-green plumage with scaly appearance on its neck, breast and mantle. Each neck and breast feather is similar in design with the familiar "eye spot" or "penumbrae" of the train. The upper tail coverts (often mistaken for the tail and should properly be known as the "train") of both sexes are made up of highly specialized plumes that serve to abruptly alter the form of the birds when startled and may also be used in defensive behaviors. The most specialized of the upper tail coverts are the "sickle" or "scythe" which are actually flank coverts. These plumes cloak the most vulnerable regions of the birds' bodies during escape and assault strategies. The train of both sexes and even young birds is also erected and "fanned" in highly ritualistic behaviors that may serve as recognition displays and stereotyped ritual behaviors as well as in pair bonding or courtship displays. Copulation often occurs on the nocturnal roost and on elevated branches where courtship displays do not normally include train fanning. Green Peafowl, like other birds in the genera Afropavo, Rheinartia and Argusianus as well as in monals and tragopans do however perform flight displays. Both sexes participate in these displays.

The female's plumage is almost as colorful as the males. The main differences are that she lacks an elongated train of upper tail coverts that extend beyond the long, broad retrices. The female's plumage is generally more duskier at a distance and perhaps slightly duller in some light. Juveniles appear identical to the females and when one views these peafowl in the field it is very difficult to distinguish the sexes. This is because the birds inhabit tropical savannah habitat where the grass is quite high and only the head and neck are often seen. Dragonbirds are also very shy and difficult to study in the wild. When the adult males have lost their trains they are almost impossible to distinguish from their mates in the field.

Both sexes of all subspecies have a distinctive yellow crescent or "war-stripe" on each side of the double "striped" head (which is also referred to as the "loral axe"), black wings with a blue sheen, and pale fulvous primaries. The primary shape and wing formula of each geographic form is distinctive as well as the colour of the primaries, and width and length of the wings. The trailing edge wing notch is more pronounced in the Indian Peafowl than it is in Green Peafowl or African peafowl.

The male of some forms of Green Peafowl has a loud call of ki-wao which is often repeated. The female has a loud aow-aa call with an emphasis on the first syllable. The males call from their roost sites at dawn and dusk. Some forms of Green Peafowl have divergent trachea morphology and this has an impact on their voices.

The Indian Peafowl has a much louder voice than all but the imperator because of the special apparatus that accentuate volume. The Arakan spicifer has no such apparatus and as such is much quieter. Green Peafowl are noted ventriloquists however and make many low vibrational vocalizations and even piercing whistle-like shrieks in some forms.

Green Peafowl are large birds, the largest galliform on earth in terms of overall length and wingspan, though rather lighter-bodied than the Wild Turkey. The male grows up to 3 meters (10 feet) long, including the "train" and weighs up to 5 kg (12 lbs). The female is 1.1 meter (3.5 feet) long and weighs about 1.1 kg (2.4 lbs). It has large wingspan and Green Peafowl is unusual amongst Galliform birds in their capacity for sustained flight. They are documented flying over the ocean to roost on islets off the coast of Java and on islands in large lakes in Yunnan. Some of the islets and islands are more than fifteen miles from shore.

The Green Peafowl is a forest bird which nests on the ground laying 3 to 6 eggs.

The male has often been described as being polygynous, with no parental responsibilities whatsoever. He is also described as being very solitary, trying to mate with every female that enters his territory. The females are said to belong in harems, foraging with each other.

However, these are only presuppositions based upon the behaviors of captive or semi-captive Indian Peafowl (not Green Peafowl) which are facultatively polygynous and from observations of highly territorial male Green Peafowl guarding nest sites (which researchers may suppose that he is guarding multiple mates), and with both these notions combined it creates a misleading supposition that Green Peafowl are polygamous.

In fact, some researchers, such as K. B. Woods (in litt. 2000), believe that the Green Peafowls are monogamous in the wild. They believe that the male guards the nest for the entire period that it is being used, including the time before actual incubation begins. The male also guards over the chicks after hatching and that he will often take the chicks under his wings on the nocturnal roost. While the female is incubating or still in the process of creating a clutch, the male stands or perches within sight of the nest site. He is called a Dragonbird by natives because of his propensity to attack any animal, large or small that comes anywhere near the nest site.

There is some anectodotal evidence suggesting that Green Peafowl may have very complex social lives that may include the adoption of one and two year old juveniles by their three and four year old sub-adult siblings. The evidence also suggests that Green Peafowl are facultatively polyandrous, and have an alpha pair. It is not true polyandry at all, but a helper system of which many related juvenile males help out the alpha pair (the juvenile males are often the alpha male's young from a previous breeding season or his younger siblings).

They usually spend time on the ground but roost in trees at a height of 10-15m. The diet consists mainly of seeds, insects, reptiles, fruits and small animals. As with other members of its genus, the Green Peafowl can even hunt venomous snakes, making them useful for pest control.

Green Peafowls are found in a wide range of habitats including primary and secondary forest, both tropical and subtropical, as well as evergreen and deciduous. They may also be found amongst bamboo, on grasslands, savannas, scrub and farmland edge. Green Peafowl are also capable swimmers, and often forage on riverbanks as well as in streams and marshes (K. B. Woods verbally 2000).

Most sources agree that there are three distinct subspecies, although some recent work may prove otherwise. Any hard scientific evidence supporting multiple species remain unpublished.

Green Peafowl fossils from the Pliocene and older have been described from Kenya, Southern Europe and Hainan. These fossils are described as Pavo bravardi.

The hominid locality of Aramis (Ethiopia, Early Pliocene), which yielded Ardipithecus ramidus, also comprises a rich vertebrate fauna, including numerous bird remains. Among the avian taxa, a peafowl, Pavo species, is the first evidence of a very large galliform bird in Africa. Pavo sp. illustrates affinities between African and Asian avifaunas in the Pliocene. It is a fossil geographical link between the living peafowl, which are now restricted to South East Asia, and the Congo Peafowl, Afropavo congensis, that lives in the eastern Congo basin, and is morphologically distinct. The latter was recently established to be the sister taxon of Pavo, from morphological, chromosomal and molecular studies. The Ethiopian fossils are similar to the living Indian Peafowl, Pavo cristatus, and even more to the Green Peafowl, P. muticus. The Congo Peacock Afropavo probably diverged from Pavo around the Middle/Late Miocene.

Afropavo could survive in tropical forests, whereas Pavo disappeared from Africa, probably as a result of environmental changes which occurred in East Africa some time between the Early Pliocene and the Early Pleistocene. Pavo also disappeared from Europe at the same period.

Given the surprising antiquity of peafowl, their systematics are only poorly understood.

The most closely related form to Pavo bravardi, is the possible species Pavo antiqus, endemic to the Deqen region of northernmost western Yunnan and Southern Eastern Sichuan(K. B. Woods in litt. 2000), which is also larger than other forms.

As Afropavo and Pavo split apart during the Miocene and a peafowl very similar to Pavo muticus was well established by the Pliocene, it is surprising to learn that the Indian Peafowl only emerges from its Green Peafowl ancestral founders ~-two million years ago. Different 'green' peafowl populations may have diverged from one another millions of years before the familiar Indian species came into existence.

Pavo muticus muticus
P. m. muticus is the nominate subspecies. It is also considered the most colorful, as well as the most critically endangered, with about 1000 individuals in the wild. It is currently confined to Java but earlier noted from the Thai-Malay peninsula.

Aviculturists refer to this subspecies as Java Green Peafowl or just Java Peafowl, but often incorrectly refer to all subspecies in this way.

Malaysian and Javan forms
However, the notion that the nominate race muticus was the subspecies that existed in the Thai-Malay peninsula remains controversial, even though some "genetic work" suggests they are identical (later found out to just be a comparison of an old Malay museum skin with a captive Malay bird to confirm form introduced to Malaysia was Malaysian). Some believe that the samples collected from the birds of Java and Malay got mixed up (accidentally or purposely), or that false information was published. Wolfgang Mennig, a Green Peafowl breeder and conservationist, also noted genetic differences between the two birds and says that the Javan race has another subspecies in the subspecies (Baluran form).

Translated section of a German PDF:
    The Malaysian and the Javan varieties were considered genetically identical and were grouped under the scientific name Pavo muticus muticus. This is not the case anymore. The two varieties are genetically different and the Javan variety even has two genetically different varieties of its own, the (Ujung Kulon-Form/south western Java and Baluran-Form/eastern Java).
The Malaysian form is now extinct, but Wolfgang Mennig's so-called "Javanese" birds are in fact Malaysian (this is controversial). However, the birds introduced into Malaysia may not be Malaysian, instead it may have been Pavo muticus spicifer instead.

Unfortunately, captive stocks supposedly of pure Java Greens such as the Rodney Michael stock are a mix of the two forms. This is due to the fact that Jean Theodore Delacour assumed the two were identical.

Pavo muticus spicifer
P. m. spicifer is the dullest and bluest race. Distributed in northeastern India and northwestern Myanmar west of the Irrawady river, it is often mistakingly thought to be extinct, though is quite rare. It can also be found in Thailand and was one of the three forms that existed in Malaysia.

Aviculturists refer to them as Burmese Greens. Birds seen or imported from Myanmar are often automatically considered spicifer and the race is often considered the predominant subspecies in captivity with 500 individuals. However, this is misleading ; it is possible that the captive population consists mostly of imperators instead. Also just because a Green Peafowl is found in Myanmar does not mean it is spicifer (K. B. Woods in litt. 2000).

This may have been the bird introduced into Malaysia instead of Pavo muticus muticus, as while the WPA stated that the birds were of the race P. m. muticus, pictures of some of the birds used in the reintroduction suggest spicifer, specifically the rare distinctive form that exists in Tenasserim (others suggest the wrong Javanese form of muticus muticus).

According to Kermit Blackwood, it is from spicifer that the Malay, Annamese, and Javanese forms diverged from.

Pavo muticus imperator
P. m. imperator is the second brightest race, next to muticus. Though being slightly duller, imperator has a brighter facial pattern.

It is found east of the Irrawady river in Indo-China Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia and south to Thailand. Unlike earlier speculations, this subspecies was not the one that existed in the Isthmus of Kra.

Recent research regarding systematics
Preliminary data from K. B. Woods (Kermit Blackwood) suggests that the Green Peafowl is actually a complex of several distinct species, each with subspecies of their own, and that each species had evolved similarly with each species of Lophura pheasants, which Blackwood believes that some subspecies and forms of certain species should be considered distinct species. The data also shows that each species lives in a different habitat, which is shared by one species of Lophura. For example, he says that the so called Pavo annamensis which favors broadleaf forests, shares the habitat with Lophura annamensis (a species split from Lophura nycthemera). Wolfgang Mennig has also utilized Blackwood's systematics (even though his publication only calls them subspecies) and is indeed a close friend of Blackwood. Any hard scientific data supporting the multiple Green Peafowl species theory remain unpublished.

Kermit Blackwood and Wolfgang Mennig believe there are six living species:

Pavo muticus - The extinct Malay Pahang form. It has a gold sheen, a blue head and a rose-green back. There were two subspecies which inhabited lowland, semi-deciduous dipterocarp forests and lowland rainforests. Though extinct in Malaysia, there are numbers in captivity.
P. annamensis - The Annamese form (see below) is native to broadleaf evergreen, mixed broadleaf and deciduous broadleaf forests of Yunnan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand. It shares similar traits to the Malaysian form but instead has a blue back. There are 4 subspecies. The Bokor subspecies P. a. bokorensis, which also inhabits submontane forest, and submontane grassland, is possibly a distinct species, but is treated here as conspecific.
P. javanensis - Javanese form living in the coastal rainforest and dry monsoon forests of the Sunda Straits has two subspecies, Ujung Kulon and Baluran (see above).
P. spicifer - The Burmese form has four subspecies, including the Tenasserim form which was introduced into Malaysia. It can be found in Myanmar, India, Bangladesh, Thailand, Malaysia and possibly Tibet. It inhabits semi-evergreen rainforest; dry montane, northern subtropical and elephant grass/bamboo forests, though the Arakan subspecies P. s. arakansis inhabits moist evergreen, elephant grass and timber bamboo forests.
P. imperator - This form is actually more related to the Indian Peafowl than to other forms of Green Peafowl. This bird inhabits moist deciduous forests and tropical savannahs. The Siamese subspecies P. i. siamensis is shown in the painting above. It is very distinctive, and has the most vivid facial skin of any Green Peafowl, with bold tangerine war-stripes and a bright blue loral axe.
P. antiqus - First described by K. Blackwood in 2000, the Yunnan form seems to differ from all other forms (see below). It inhabits the montane forests of Yunnan.

A Hainanese species also existed, either a close relative of muticus and annamensis, or a form of the Imperator.

Additionally, Wolfgang Mennig, a Green Peafowl breeder and private conservationist working for the World Pheasant Association in Germany, believes that the subspecies imperator is really a group of four, or five subspecies: P. m. imperator, P. m. annamensis, P. m. angkorensis, and P. m. laotius. He also suggests that that P. m. yunnanensis could be another subspecies in this group and even says that some taxonomists believe there were ten subspecies, some of which are extinct.

Translated section from a German PDF:

“ The subspecies of the Pavo muticus imperator is divided into 4, or if the one that lives in west China yunnanensis counts, 5 different subspecies. Pavo muticus imperator whose range is from central Thailand to Myanmar, annamensis, or vietnamensis within the coastal range of Vietnam from north to south, and angkorensis from Cambodia and the laotius in central Laos. ”

According to recent genetic work, the Javanese form of P. m. muticus is different from the Malaysian (see above).

Some systematists and breeders have already identified at least two additional sub/species.

Pavo (muticus) antiqus
The birds inhabiting Yunnan may be a fourth possible subspecies:

“ The form in Yunnan is not separated taxonomically but it apparently differs in a few aspects from other forms, particularly in its forest-dwelling habits, an "odd, monal-like bill", a curiously long hind toe and longer, more slender wings (K. B. Woods in litt. 2000). Its taxonomic placement should perhaps be investigated further. ”

Madge and McGowan (Pheasants, Partridges and Grouse ISBN 0-7136-3966-0) also suggest that the Yunnan form might merit subspecific status because of its differences from other imperator birds.

Morphologically speaking, this form is most closely related to the Pilocene Peafowl Pavo bravardi.

It is endemic to mixed tropical pine and broadleaf evergreen forests in the mountains of northern western Yunnan; Southern Eastern most Tibet and southern western Sichuan where it is believed extinct today. This form is also significantly larger than other Green Peafowl and lives in much cooler climates than typical Green Peafowls. This region is an important region for Pliocene fossils. Fossil peafowl from Java have also been described from Pleistocene up to the Holocene.

Some actually think that at least four forms of Green Peafowl exist in Yunnan, including this one, the Yunnan form of the "true" imperator, the Annamese form, and the Tennasirim spicifer which may occasionally stray into Yunnan.

Pavo (muticus) annamensis
Another form that differs from other imperator birds is also said to live in parts of Yunnan, as well as certain parts of Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos and Vietnam in the Annamite Range. The male is said to exhibit a bluer head and back plate than other imperator birds and both sexes are said to have a stronger golden sheen similar to muticus. In fact, muticus derived from this race and may even be considered conspecific. The irides are also unusually pale. The bird also prefers broadleaf evergreen forests. Because of all the differences, some believe these birds may also merit subspecific status soon.

When Jean Th??odore Delacour examined skins of these birds, he thought they were a mere "individual variation". Opponents of this statement point out that there was more than one bird with such differences, and that the birds did not fit the description of imperator.

Some breeders have called the bird P. (m.) annamensis.

In a page on the German WPA site about P. m. imperator, it also mentions yunnanensis and annamensis. It also says that annamensis, vietnamensis, angkorensis (called angkorensi on the page), and laotius are all the same subspecies and are either geographical forms or subspecies inside the subspecies of annamensis.

Due to hunting and a reduction in extent and quality of habitat, the Green Peafowl is evaluated as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. It is listed on Appendix II of CITES.

Hybridisation with the Indian Peafowl may also be a cause for the decline of the Green Peafowl, damaging the gene stock of captive birds. Certain birds both in the wild and captivity which are thought to be pure Green Peafowl are really hybrids, known by some as "spauldings" or "spaldings".

While many sources say there is no natural range overlap between the two species, feral populations exist in ranges, leading to more hybrids. Hybrids mostly live around Buddhist palaces, and sacred gardens, and often resemble Indian Peafowl with a hint of Green Peafowl shape and color. Sometimes epistasis occurs and some hybrids have white plumage yet still have iridescence. There is indeed some speculation that pure Green Peafowl of the Imperator form used to also have a white phase. Some stamp makers have mistaken hybrids for the true Green Peafowl . Some videos supposed to depict the Green Peafowl also show hybrids .

Although all subspecies are declining, P. m. spicifer and P. m. imperator are not declining as much as P. m. muticus. Some breeders mistakingly say that the race spicifer is extinct, although this is not true. Nonetheless, this subspecies is also declining rapidly. The race/group imperator may still be common (though declining) in isolated parts of its range.

The nominate race supposedly lived in Malaysia, as well as the Isthmus of Kra, but had became extinct in the 1960s.

In 2005, The Star reported that successful reintroductions were being made in Malaysia by the World Pheasant Association (WPA).

However, the reintroductions have not been without controversy. The publication stated that the Javan and Malay form were genetically identical, which has been widely accepted by the scientific community. However, some do not believe the forms are identical, accusing the WPA of a misinformation campaign, and that the two forms are behaviourally, ecologically and genetically distinct. More recent genetic work has also confirmed that the two forms are genetically different. Because of the notion that the two forms were not identical there are concerns that the wrong form was introduced. Further emphasizing this was that the birds depicted in the publication were that of the Baluran Javan form. However, the DNA of the introduced stock allegedly matched that of old museum skins in Malaysia.

Even the claim that "P. m. muticus" was introduced is controversial ; a picture of a peahen in Malaysia has been identified by Kermit Blackwood as spicifer . This is said to have been a bird used in the reintroduction as it was found outside of Melaka Zoo. The German WPA site also confirms the individual female as a spicifer. If Blackwood's and the WPA's identification is right, then at least part of the stock was spicifer. However, Blackwood believes that the Tennasirim bird was also native to Malaysia but is also an endangered species that has become extinct in the region.

Still, the Malaysian form of Green Peafowl remains largely extinct. Some of the last hopes for this form to survive depends on Wolfgang Mennig's "Javanese" stock, as well as remaining small numbers in Thailand. Fortunately, there are quite a few of these birds in captivity, and there is still the hope of a future reintroduction for the true Pahang Dragonbird to return to the wild.
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Scientific Name: Pavo muticus Linnaeus, 1766
Common Names:
English – Green Peafowl, Green-necked Peafowl, Green Peacock
Spanish – Pavo-real Cuelliverde, Pavo-real Verde
French: Paon spicifère German: Ährenträgerpfau Spanish: Pavo real cuelliverde
Taxonomy: Pavo muticus Linnaeus, 1766, Java.

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