This strain of peafowl has proved to be a very healthy one. No problems of any kind have ever been associated with them. The inbreeding that must be done to establish a new color, has not proven detrimental to this strain. A good program of out-crossing, after producing enough Purple birds to work with, has insured their health and stamina. With continued out-crossing,
these birds will become well established in aviaries allover the world.
Feather Color Fading
The Purple peacock's feathers lighten in color with the age of the feather. We know that for an iridescent feather to change its color, it has to have had a change in structure. Also this structure change must have weakened the entire feather. The feather has brilliant fresh colors as it comes in and for a short time after it has completely finished growing. However, as the feather ages it starts to lose it's brilliance and starts to "fade". It continues to lighten until the feather is molted. I believe that the structure has been weakened, due to the mutation, and thus does not refract the light in the same way as it did when it was new. Therefore, the Purple peacock has a totally different look in February than it does in June.
The Spalding variety of Purple peafowl is a very striking bird. The peahen photographed here is 75% Green. The body is a darker redder brown than the regular Purple. We are working to produce a male Purple Spalding with at least 75% Green blood.
To produce a Purple Spalding female like this one, breed a Purple hen to a pure Green cock. Take a Spalding male from this cross. He is carrying the Purple gene even though he is normal in color. Breed him to a pure Green hen and you, eventually will get a Purple Spalding hen that IS three quarters Green.
The hen of the Purple Peafowl is brown allover with purple iridescence on its neck in the same area and pattern as the green iridescence of the normal Blue Indian peahen. She has the body color of the Cameo hen. Cameo and Purple peachicks are hard, if not impossible, to tell apart. The body of the Purple peahen fades in the sun similar to the way a Cameo hen's feathers do.
The neck and breast feathers of the cock are purple to bluish purple iridescent in contrast to the blue to blue-green of the normal Blue Indian. The back scale feathers are blue-green instead of yellow-green. The train has an overall blue-green coloration with purple and green highlights. Almost no yellow or red tones that are so prevalent in the normal peafowl are visible. The shoulder feathers are tan and light brown barred instead of tan and black. The primaries are nearly the same color as in the Blue Indian and Black Shouldered birds.
he fact that these peafowl, in essence, change color over a period of a few months, makes for a very interesting bird to watch. During the early part of the molt when the new feathers are growing in, the peacock is brilliant against the drab or even white of the winter and early spring. As the greens appear in the late spring and summer, the bird looses its brilliance and takes on the appearance of an old drab piece of faded lace with just a hint of the iridescent splendor that it once had. The faded bright purples and blues shinning through the basic taupey brown body color, in my opinion, makes for a very chic peacock. Again it is contrasting with its surroundings, which makes a free-roaming bird more visible at all times of the year.
The Newest Color Mutations in Peafowl
Shown are some of the newest colors and varieties in peafowl today. Most of these are availble from several different breeders in very limited numbers and varying degrees of development. All of these need much more work before they will be throughly established in our collections. Now, more tnan any other time, we are confronted with a most wondeful dilema. Having so many dfferent varieties to choose from, with which one will we choose to work? Too many mutations and combinations are now available for any one breeder to work with all of them.
The Charcoal Peafowl first appeared in Arizona at the Phoenix Zoo and in birds with their origin at the zoo. Luke Thurkhill of Scottsdale, Arizona, as well as Roughwood Avairiews, has done many years of work on the Charcoal. A separate booklet will be available later covering just this mutation.
The Opal Peafowl were first bred, named and recognized as a new breed by David Dickerson of Delaware and Dwayne Jones of Maryland. They have supplied these birds to numerous other breeders for more work. A combinationof this fabulous new color and the Black Shouldered gene has produced the stunning new variety, the Black Opal. This peacock is strikingly similar to its namesake, the black opal gemstone. It is a dark gray in color with flashes of briliant blues and greens.
There will be even more mutations appearing in the future. So we should all be observing our birds very closely in order to find the next one. Every new mutation gives us a new tool with which to build new combinations and varieties.
Peafowl have been raised at Roughwood for over thirty five years. Roughwood is owned by Clifton Nicholson, Jr. who .has been consumed by peafowl for many decades. Dennis Wischmeier is the manager of Rough wood and has been for seven years. He is in charge of caring for and raising each new generation of peafowl. Dennis also has his own peafowl farm, Driftwood Valley Farms in Vallonia, Indiana. We are dedicated to the establishment of new color mutations with which we come into contact. We're working on expanding the r>urple and Bronze genes with Pieds and White Eyeds into the Green species. We already have some of the most spectacular Purple Spalding andPurplePieds. We're also working on Charcoals, Peach and other new colors.
At Roughwood we are also dedicated to the propagation of the Malay Great Argus pheasant. We have been raising them since 1984. This .is truly one of the kings of pheasants and needs to be in more collections. There are a couple drawbacks in raising Argus. They're very large and they're tropical so they need heat.
The New Color Introduction in 1994 by Roughwood Aviaries
The Purple peafowl first appeared in a free-range flock of the late Jack Seipel in Gilbert, Arizona. It was hatched by a Black Shouldered peahen in the spring of 1987. Jack noticed this light colored chick running free with a hen in his flock and he thought that perhaps it was a Cameo, even though he had never seen one. Later, as the chick grew, Jack's description matched a young Cameo's, except he would insist that this chick had small amounts of purple iridescence around it's neck. As it became older, the purple became more pronounced. Jack decided to catch this bird so that it would not get killed on the four-lane highway in front of his ranch.
I was able to see this young bird in February 1988 on my annual trip to Arizona and took the first pictures of it during my visit. Jack's health had been failing for sometime; therefore he began to sell off most of his peafowl. Even though he desperately wanted to work with this new mutation, he knew that he had neither the time nor the energy required to establish this new variety of peafowl.
In January of 1989, Jack sold the new Purple peafowl, as he had named it, to me.
The first breeding of this peahen occurred that very year, 1989. She was bred to a Cameo cock. Two normal colored males were produced. When those two males were bred back to the original peahen two years later, both Purple males and females were produced as well as a variety of others. The original Purple hen happened to be carrying the Black Shouldered and white genes which expedited the production of Purple Black Shouldered and Purple Pied peafowl. The Purple mutation proved to be a sex-linked recessive gene. This is the same type of genetic mutation as the brown or Silver Dunn gene that produces the Cameo and Oaten peafowl.
The Purple gene can be used in combination with other mutations and varieties to create even more variations. The Pied Purple is a striking peafowl. Two other varieties that can be produced are the Purple White-Eyed and the Purple Silver Pied. The Black Shouldered and the Purple genes combined can produce the Purple Black Shouldered. The "black" on the Black Shouldered wings becomes a faded brown in this new variety. The Purple Spalding is also a most interesting bird. Photos of this peafowl are located elsewhere in this booklet. We don't yet know if the Purple gene mixes with, is recessive to, or is dominant over other genes such as the Buford Bronze, Charcoal, Opal, and Peach. So many combinations are yet to be tried. We have lots of work to do on these new varieties.
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Clifton L Nicholson, Jr.
P.O. Box 202
Scottsburg, IN 47170
Fax: 812-752-9406©2003 Clifton L. Nicholson, Jr