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Peacock feathers

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172508.  Mon May 07, 2007 8:29 am Reply with quote

Q: Which part of a peacock does this feather come from?

F: Its tail

A: Its train

The impressive feathers commonly (and mistakenly) referred to as a peacock's tail are nothing of the sort. A peacock's tail feathers are, in fact, small, brown, uninteresting, and much like the peahen's tail feathers.

The feathers which are so brightly coloured consist of extremely enlarged upper tail coverts. Coverts are (normally) small feathers which cover the place where the quills of the wing feathers attach to the leading edge of the wing, or where the quills of the tail feathers attach to the tail. In the peacock, the coverts on the tail have become extraordinarily large.

For this reason, experts talk about a peacock's train, rather than a peacock's tail. (see post 172054 for more details)

Peacock's are also great as an excuse to say the words "pea" and "cock" in polite company.

172606.  Mon May 07, 2007 8:32 pm Reply with quote

So is the tail covert not at all part of the tail then? Because when you say 'upper tail covert' I fix on the word 'tail' and that leads me to think it's part of the tail.

172618.  Tue May 08, 2007 3:31 am Reply with quote

No, the tail coverts are not part of the tail.

A bird's tail consists of a bunch of feathers attached to its hindquarters. The "tail coverts" are small feathers which cover the quills of the tails feathers so as to improve aerodynamics in flight. They are considered separate from the tail (at least, everywhere I've read about it).

After all, your eyebrows aren't part of your eyes, are they?

172854.  Tue May 08, 2007 7:28 pm Reply with quote

Depends how long I let them grow.

172950.  Wed May 09, 2007 6:05 am Reply with quote

OK, let me rephrase that.

Your eyebrows aren't supposed to be part of your eyes, are they? :)


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