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Meet The National Bird of Myanmar, The Grey Peacock-Pheasant

Myanmar, an enchanting land of gold pagodas, verdant landscapes, and a rich diversity of cultures, is also home to the mesmerizing Grey peacock-pheasant, an emblem of pride, resistance, and national identity.

As you dive into the depths of this article, prepare to be entranced by this bird’s elegance and resilience. Did you know that the Grey peacock-pheasant, despite its regal appearance, can be quite the ground dweller? Stay tuned to uncover more fascinating facets of this avian wonder.

Quick Info About The Grey Peacock-Pheasant

Scientific Name:Polyplectron bicalcaratum
Average Size:Up to 76 cm (30 inches)
Average Wingspan:Around 60-70 cm (23.5-27.5 inches)
Average Weight:Approx. 450-700 grams (1-1.5 lbs)
Average Lifespan:10-15 years in the wild, can be longer in captivity
Geographical Range:Bangladesh, Northeast India, and Southeast Asia
Habitat:Lowland and hill forests
Conservation Status:Least Concern (IUCN Red List)

Meet The Grey Peacock-Pheasant, National Bird of Myanmar

Boasting a sophisticated greyish-brown plumage, the Grey peacock-pheasant or the Burmese peacock-pheasant stands out with its fine green eyespots, resembling intricate pieces of art.

Males flaunt an elongated bushy crest and beautiful ornamental feathers, while females, although less ornate, share similar elegance but with a darker hue. This sexual dimorphism ensures that while males can attract mates with their dazzling display, females remain inconspicuous, especially when nurturing young ones.

In the ecosystem, the Grey peacock-pheasant maintains the balance by consuming a diverse diet of seeds, fruits, termites, and other invertebrates.

With their ground-foraging habits, they act as essential seed dispersers, aiding in the propagation of various plant species. Despite their elegance, they are not apex in the food chain, as they fall prey to larger birds of prey, mammals, and reptiles.

Being ground dwellers, they have developed mastery in camouflaging, blending seamlessly with the forest floor, which serves as both a defense mechanism against predators and a strategy to ambush unsuspecting prey.

The Grey peacock-pheasant’s role in Myanmar’s ecosystem is pivotal, symbolizing the delicate balance of nature and the entwined fates of the many species calling Myanmar home.

Myanmar Grey Peacock-Pheasant Source: Wikimedia Commons

Where Does The Grey Peacock-Pheasant Live?

The Grey peacock-pheasant, in all its splendor, finds solace in the lowland and hill forests of Myanmar. These environments, characterized by dense undergrowth and a lush canopy, provide ample opportunities for the bird to forage and nest.

The climate is typically tropical, with heavy rainfall, high humidity, and consistent temperatures, creating a rich biodiversity that supports the Grey peacock-pheasant’s diet and lifestyle.

While the bird’s presence is most pronounced in Myanmar, its range extends beyond the nation’s borders, reaching parts of Bangladesh, Northeast India, and certain areas of Southeast Asia. However, it notably avoids most of Indochina and the entire Malayan Peninsula.

Why and When Did The Grey Peacock-Pheasant Become The National Bird of Myanmar?

The Grey peacock-pheasant, apart from its striking appearance, holds deep cultural and historical significance for the people of Myanmar. Its symbolism runs deep, representing pride, resilience, and resistance against external forces.

Myanmar’s last kings, the Konbaung dynasty, embraced the peacock as an emblem of royalty and power, with monarchs donning peacock insignia on their robes and reigning from the legendary Peacock Throne until British colonialists toppled their rule.

Beyond monarchy, the peacock evolved into a symbol of defiance and hope. Aung San, Myanmar’s independence hero, created the “Fighting Peacock” magazine during his resistance against British rule.

His daughter, Aung San Suu Kyi, continued the legacy by adopting the bird as the emblem for her National League for Democracy, making it synonymous with the struggle for democracy against military rule. The bird was present in rallies, protests, and even in the interiors of government offices, serving as a constant reminder of Myanmar’s quest for freedom and identity.

While the Grey peacock-pheasant’s association with these movements might not be as direct as its colorful cousin, the green peafowl, it’s emblematic of Myanmar’s avian allure and the broader significance of peacocks in the nation’s history and psyche.

It’s important to note, however, that in recent times, concerns have arisen about the declining populations of these birds due to habitat loss and poaching, which might stir debates and discussions about conservation versus tradition.

Where is The Grey Peacock-Pheasant Featured in Myanmar?

While the Grey peacock-pheasant is the national bird of Myanmar, its direct representation in popular national symbols such as the flag or banknotes is limited. However, peacock motifs, which derive inspiration from both the Grey peacock-pheasant and the green peafowl, are ubiquitous throughout the country.

From traditional textiles, architectural elements, to religious artifacts, the influence of the peacock can be seen. Additionally, the legacy of the peacock is evident in political realms, as mentioned with Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy adopting the bird as their party emblem.

It’s worth mentioning that even if the Grey peacock-pheasant isn’t directly depicted on these national items, its essence and the general reverence for peacocks are deeply rooted in the culture of Myanmar.

Names of The Grey Peacock-Pheasant

The Grey peacock-pheasant, known scientifically as Polyplectron bicalcaratum, goes by various names, that resonate with the regions and cultures that admire its beauty.

Most commonly, it’s also referred to as the Burmese peacock-pheasant due to its prominence in Myanmar. In indigenous languages and local dialects, it might have distinct names.

However, the primary names by which this bird is recognized internationally remain the Grey peacock-pheasant and the Burmese peacock-pheasant.

Is The Grey Peacock-Pheasant Endangered?

Fortunately, the Grey peacock-pheasant is not currently classified as endangered. It’s listed as a “Species of Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

However, this shouldn’t lead to complacency. While widespread across its range, the bird faces increasing threats from habitat destruction, especially due to deforestation, and from poaching.

In response to these challenges, there have been growing calls for conservation strategies to protect the Grey peacock-pheasant and its natural environment.

While specific actions tailored to the bird are limited, broader conservation efforts aimed at preserving forests and implementing stricter anti-poaching measures indirectly benefit the Grey peacock-pheasant.

Additionally, it’s listed on CITES Appendix II, which restricts the trade of wild-caught birds to ensure sustainability and conservation of the species.

Myanmar Grey Peacock-Pheasant Source: Wikimedia Commons

Interesting Facts About The Grey Peacock-Pheasant

  1. Eyes on the Feathers: One of the most distinctive features of the Grey peacock-pheasant is the green eyespots on its greyish-brown feathers. These spots, resembling eyes, can deter predators by creating the illusion of a larger, watchful creature.
  2. Nesting Habits: The female Grey peacock-pheasant is known to make her nest on the ground, often concealed by dense foliage to keep her eggs safe from potential threats.
  3. Cultural Symbol: Beyond its biological allure, the bird has become a symbol of resistance and pride in Myanmar, echoing the nation’s history of struggle and aspirations for a brighter future.
  4. Unique Calls: The Grey peacock-pheasant’s call is distinctive and can often be heard echoing in the forests it inhabits, especially during the breeding season.
  5. Diverse Diet: This bird is an omnivore, feasting on a variety of foods ranging from seeds and fruits to termites and other invertebrates, showcasing its adaptability and essential role in the ecosystem.

Other Beautiful Birds Native To Myanmar

Myanmar’s diverse landscapes, from dense forests to river deltas, are home to a plethora of exquisite bird species. Here are five notable ones:

  • Green Peafowl (Pavo muticus): This stunning bird is adorned with iridescent feathers and a long, ornate train. It is not only one of Myanmar’s national symbols but also plays a role in various cultural expressions.
  • Hooded Treepie (Crypsirina cucullata): Native to Myanmar, this bird stands out with its black body and a contrasting silvery-white patch on the back of its head and neck.
  • White-browed Nuthatch (Sitta victoriae): This bird is endemic to Myanmar and is known for its swift movements and distinctive white brow.
  • Jerdon’s Babbler (Chrysomma altirostre): Thought to be extinct but rediscovered in 2015, this bird has a rich history intertwined with the country’s grasslands.
  • Gurney’s Pitta (Hydrornis gurneyi): A vibrant bird with striking blue and yellow colors, it’s a rare sight in Myanmar but remains an ornithologist’s delight.

What Is Another National Animal of Myanmar?

Apart from the Grey peacock-pheasant, Myanmar celebrates the Green Peafowl (Pavo muticus) as its national animal. The Green Peafowl stands out with its brilliant colors, shimmering green crest, and an impressive train of tail feathers marked with eye-like spots.

Not only is it visually stunning, but it also holds a symbolic place in Myanmar’s cultural and historical narrative. For centuries, the peacock has been an emblem of the Burmese monarchy, symbolizing grace, beauty, and pride.

The bird’s significance transcends royal connotations, as it became a symbol of resistance against British colonial rule and later against military dictatorship, further elevating its importance in the national psyche.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why was the Grey peacock-pheasant chosen as the national bird of Myanmar?

The Grey peacock-pheasant embodies the spirit of Myanmar’s natural beauty and resilience. Its intricate feather patterns and the role it has played in local folklore and traditions made it a fitting symbol for the nation.

Are Grey peacock-pheasants found only in Myanmar?

No, while they are prominent in Myanmar, they are also distributed in parts of Bangladesh, Northeast India, and Southeast Asia.

Is the Grey peacock-pheasant the same as the Green Peafowl?

No, they are distinct species. The Grey peacock-pheasant is Myanmar’s national bird, while the Green Peafowl is the national animal.

Why is the peacock symbol significant in Myanmar’s history?

Embraced by kings, freedom fighters, and democracy icons, the peacock has been a long-standing symbol of pride, resistance, and the nation’s aspiration for freedom and dignity.

Are there any conservation efforts in place for the Grey peacock-pheasant in Myanmar?

Yes, while the bird is listed as “Least Concern” by the IUCN, there are broader conservation initiatives in Myanmar aimed at preserving habitats and preventing poaching that indirectly benefit the species.

Other National Symbols of Myanmar

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