Peacocks’ mating resonance
Stories from Physics for 11-14 14-16
A study of the biomechanics of male peacocks’ tail feathers during their mating displays suggests that the oscillations are controlled in such a way that the iridescent eyespots remain nearly stationary in order to captivate female birds. Researchers used high-speed video to determine that male peacocks generated a pulsating sound by rubbing their feathers together at a mean frequency of 26.5 Hz. The peacocks were capable of vibrating their feathers at, or near to, their resonant frequencies in a manner that stimulated maximum amplitude vibrations for minimum energy expenditure and the oscillations typically had a node near the eyespot of the feather.