A. THE GREEN PEAFOWL (Pavo Muticus Muticus)
According to McKinnon, there are several kinds of peafowl in
the world, but we restrict our writing to the Green Peafowl
(Pavo Muticus Muticus). As these beautiful birds can be
observed in quite some numbers on the Bekol savanna in the
National Park of Baluran in the very Northeast corner of
East Java. This pretty and interesting Park of 25.000 Ha is
relatively small, but stands out above other National Parks
in the whole of Indonesia, in that it is very easy to reach
when you are traveling overland from Jogjakarta, Bromo,
Malang or Surabaya to Bali or vice-verca. Rosa’s Ecolodge
was established in 2000 and since the beginning we have
specialized in ecotourism and eco-safaris, including Bird
watching and especially observing Green Peafowl in the
Baluran National Park.
The topography of the Baluran National Park forms a rough
square with the mountain Baluran (1247 m) in its centre.
From the foot of the mountain, the undulating lowland and
slopes are covered with savanna and monsoon forest, forming
an encircling corridor of land of about 5 – 7 km to the sea.
The 40 km long coastline consists of a coastal forest with
alternating sandy beaches, settlements and mangrove forest.
The soil in the entire area of Baluran is dominated by
old volcanic rocks with alluvium rocks along the coastline.
These soils are rich in minerals, but poor in organic matter
and is porous, so that it cannot hold water. This is the
main reason why the savanna is so dominant over the entire
terrain, other more water dependent grasses just die off in
the dry monsoon. The weather is very much influenced by the
monsoon winds which assist in forming an arid environment,
but officially the dry monsoon (SE - wind) is from June –
October, and the wet monsoon (NW – wind) is from October –
June, but there are transition months on both ends.
It is on the savanna grasslands and surrounding scrub and
monsoon forest but especially on the Bekol savanna, where
the green peafowl of Baluran lives and thrives. Watling
(1991) states that Baluran is a very favorable environment
for peafowl and junglefowl breeding in the wild. Although it
is possible to see numerous green peafowl on the Bekol
savanna, their population is not as many as it should have
been. This situation is the result of illegal hunting using
snares and the gathering of eggs by villagers in the
bufferzone. Other factors are predators like panthers and
wild dogs, diseases, accidents, fire and habitat
destruction, but in a less significant way.
Rosa’s Ecolodge and the Baluran National Park are at
present cooperating in a joint effort to mitigate all the
disrupting factors and make the environment more favorable
for peafowl breeding. While theBekol savanna is visited each
day all year long by many peafowl, the partly asphalted
entrance road to Bekol is the playing ground of the red and
green junglefowl as well as for green peafowl. But more
frequently during dawn and near dusk conditions.
As its habitat, the green peafowl likes open terrain like
the savanna, with scrub, high grass and tall trees for
roosting in the vicinity of water. The reason for this
habitat-preference is that peafowl need the savanna
forforaging (grass and other plant seeds), while at the same
time being able to keep an eye out for approaching
predators. The high trees are ideal for roosting and resting
during the night and the day. These roosting trees must have
either an open canopy like the gebang palm or a canopy
without a dense cover like the pilang-tree. So that during
roosting, peafowl can spot enemies approaching from far away
and has an easy escape route not hampered by a tangle of
branches and leafs.
When a peafowl is in such a position, it is almost
impossible to approach it on foot. Of all the wild animals
on the savanna, the peafowl is equipped with the sharpest
eyes of them all. It is much more simple to approach a
roosting tree of peafowl on top of a safari-car, where the
chance of making good photographs is much greater. That is
the way Rosa’s Ecolodge is performing a Birdwatching Safari
in Baluran, where in addition to green peafowl and
junglefowl about 140 other bird species can be found. When
you sit on top of a safari-car you have an unimpeded view of
360 degrees and you can spot birds flying or sitting on a
branch much more easier without disturbing them. Of course
you can get off the car at any likely spot that looks
interesting to you for observing birds and do some walking.
In Baluran it is possible to see up to ten peafowl in one
roosting tree on the savanna when it is your lucky day, a
very rare sight else where in the world.
During the dry season (June – October), green peafowl in
Baluran are frequently found near water sources, both
natural and manmade (Bekol). In the period just prior to the
dry season, peafowl visit ravines where there are still
stagnant pools of water to be found. In addition to
drinking, peafowl also hunts the crayfish and small fish
trapped in these pools, as a source of protein. According to
the late Jim Corbet, peafowl follow tigers as in fact our
beautiful are birds carrion eaters, feasting on leftovers
and maggots of the tigers prey. They also like to eat worms,
insect larvae, mollucs, and small amphibians. This variety
in its diet makes the peafowl an omnivore.
In its daily behavior from around 04.30 till sunrise,
peafowl follow a more or less fixed ritual. This ritual
starts while the bird is still in its roosting tree by
preening its feathers, especially when they are wet from the
rain. This is followed by small movements along and between
the branches. After this the peafowl starts its morning
calling; the calling of the male peafowl is heard between
05.30 and 07.00 with in the afternoon between 17.00 and
18.00. Sometimes green peafowl in Baluran can be heard
between 11.00 and 13.00 near water. When the peafowl in its
roosting tree assesses the situation as being safe, it will
fly down and heads to its feeding ground, where it continues
with its daily routine consisting of sunning, preeningand
foraging. At around 11.00 it stops this activity to takes a
rest till about 14.00. After this resting period, the green
peafowl starts foraging for the second time on the way
returning to its roosting tree for the night.
During the rainy season the green peafowl in Baluran will
stay a longer period of time in his roosting tree than
during the dry season. The bird then only spend a relatively
short time on the ground for foraging before returning to
its roosting tree to rest and take cover.
The green peafowl leads a polygamic life and that is why
its appears on the Bekol savanna in agroup with 4 – 5 hens,
sometimes with chicks. It reaches adulthood at the age of
three yearsand is then able to lay eggs. The female in
captivity is able to lay up to 24 eggs in one laying period,
when the eggs are taken away for incubation. During the
breeding season, the male peafowl lives with 4 – 6 hens as
his harem and has its own territory which he defends
fiercelyagainst other invading males. However, this harem
relationship is not a permanent one but is only temporarily.
As outside the breeding season this relationship is
dissolved and the hens go their own way.
Just before the actual mating starts, the male peafowl
performs a kind of “love-dance” to impress his harem and to
give him the right to mate. During this performance the male
peafowl spreads his long tail and keeps it erect to show off
its coloured splendor. He than dances around slowlywith
dainty little steps in a full circle, showing his spread out
tail like a fan.
The green peafowl makes his nest on the ground in the
brush in high grass, sometimes between the roots of big
trees or in holes or crevasses in a stony dry creek. The hen
lays 3 – 8 dirty yellowish eggs with an incubation period of
approximately 28 days.
The mating season of green peafowl in East Java is in the
period between October and December, which is the end of the
dry season and entering the rainy season. Mother Nature has
arranged its that way that when the eggs hatch there is
plenty food and water available for the newborn chicks. The
green peafowl is indeed the “King of Birds” in Baluran and
must be protected at all times and it’s existence assisted
by man induced breeding.
B. THE JUNGLE FOWL (Gallus Bankiva & G. Varius)
1. The Red Junglefowl
According to van Balen the Red Junglefowl (Gallus Bankiva)
is the most well-known Jungle Fowl species on Java, as all
the domestic (village) chickens are its descendents. Its
pronounced orange-red neck and breast feathers attracts all
the attention to the cock, even in the semi-dark of the
evergreen forest along the Bekol entrance road. In Baluran,
this forest is the red jungle fowl's favorite habitat where
they appear during very early dawn condition. Like many
other fowl and bird species the hen is drab coloured.
Strongly enough the red junglefowl is singular in its love
life and avoids polygamy like the green junglefowl and the
peafowl. In contrast with the green junglefowl (Gallus
Varius) the red species are never seen on the savanna at any
time of the day.
The cock and the hen both take care of the chicks. The
red junglefowl is a very timid animal, much more so then its
cousin the green junglefowl (Gallus Varius). It will run
away into the nearest dense underbrush when it spots a human
being at distances much farther away than the G. Varius. In
spite of its bright orange-red colour, it is sometimes very
hard to detect in the brush even at a short distance.
According to Bernstein, the Bankiva fowl can not be tamed
completely, because although the eggs are hatched by a
domestic chicken or incubator, the Bankiva chicks will try
to escape at the first opportunity, when they reach
adulthood. On the other hand, hens will lay eggs in
The nest is made on the ground of dry grass and fallen
leaves in thick underbrush with 8 – 12 yellow brown eggs (Rey).
The local name of the red jungle fowl is “Bekiko” derived
from the sound of its crowing which definitely has three
2. The Green Jungle Fowl (Gallus Varius)
In contrast with the Bankiva, Gallus Varius is a wider
roaming fowl that likes almost all the habitat in Baluran.
You sometimes can hear a cock crowing from the Ecolodge in
the early morning when they roost in an Acacia-tree at the
edge of the village. But their favorite playing ground is
the access-road to the Bekol-compound, where they can be
seen in small groups or alone at relatively short distances.
On the savanna they appear in open terrain where they
forage like a domestic chicken on seeds and insects. The
green junglefowl outside the conservation areas can still be
found in some numbers in remote areas of teak forests,
plantations and other unmanaged land. The bird is a more
common sight than the Bankiva fowl. They nest on the ground
in alang-alang grass and are polygamic.