Peacock (or peafowl): any of three species of birds of the pheasant family Phasianidae.
AKA: The male is a peacock, the female is a peahen and the babies are peachicks. All are peafowl.
Kingdom: | Animalia
Class: | Aves
Order: | Galliformes
Family: | Phasianidae
Subfamily: | Pavoninae
There are three species of peafowl. The two most recognizable species are the blue, or Indian, peacock (Pavo cristatus) and the green, or Javanese, peacock (Pavo muticus). The Congo peacock (Afropavo congensis) was discovered in 1936.
Size and Weight:
Females are 35 to 43 inches in length with a wingspan of 31 to 51 inches and a weight of 6 to 8.8 pounds. Males are 70 to 98 inches in length with a train length nearly as long, about 55 to 63 inches. Males have a wingspan of 51 to 63 inches and weigh 8 to 13 pounds.
The peacock is well known for its bright feathers, which it often shows off in a magnificent courting display. A peafowl’s appearance varies slightly depending on the species. The Indian peacock has very flashy plumage, with a bright blue head and neck, which they use to attract a mate. Meanwhile, the Indian peahen is brown in comparison, which helps her to hide from predators when incubating her eggs. There are several genetic color mutations of Indian peafowl, including white.
Meanwhile, the Javanese peacock and peahen have similar coloration. However, the peahen’s colors are not as vibrant as the peacock’s colors and the peacock has a much longer tail. Javanese peafowl have green feathers on the head and neck. Both Indian and Javanese peafowl have bare patches of skin around their eyes and a crest on the top of their head made of feathers arranged in a fan shape.
The peacock’s back and belly have iridescent feathers in a scale pattern. Indian and Javanese peacocks are known for their long “train,” often thought of as a tail by many people. The train is covered in ocelli, which are round spots that look a lot like shining eyes.
The appearance of Congo peafowl is less impressive than the other two species. A Congo peacock’s feathers are deep blue with a metallic green and violet tinge. They have a black tail with fourteen tail feathers. The peahen is generally a chestnut brown bird with a black abdomen, metallic greenback, and a short chestnut brown crest. Both males and females resemble immature Asian peafowl.
Peacocks are omnivores. They are ground-feeders that eat insects, plants, and small creatures.
Both the blue peacock and green peacock inhabit open lowland forests, as well as farms and agricultural fields. They can be found in both tropical and dry habitats. Even in their natural range, these birds roam in cities and parks in search of food. Meanwhile, the Congo peacock inhabits the forested interior of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The blue peacock can be found in India and Sri Lanka. The green peacock can be found from Myanmar (Burma) to Java. The Congo peacock can be found in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Breeding season starts with the monsoon rains. Peacocks are known for having one of the most spectacular mating displays. When a male wants to attract a female, he props up his train of feathers and unfolds it like a fan into a semi-circle that can measure around 6 to 7 feet wide. If the peahen seems interested, he quivers, making his feathers shimmy and flash to entice her further.
The peahen raises the chicks on her own. She creates a nest, where she lays three to eight light green or tan eggs. The incubation period is 28 to 30 days, and she will sit on the eggs almost constantly during this period. The peachicks are able to walk and forage on their own immediately after they hatch. Peachicks are very vulnerable and have a high mortality rate, with only two out of six chicks surviving to adulthood.
After two weeks, they can flap up into a tree for safety. At four weeks, the young grow crests, and at two months they look just like their mother but are only half her size. Males do not have their mature coloring until their second year
Both the green peacock and blue peacock follow a routine every day. They spend their mornings in small groups foraging on the ground for food. During the non-breeding season, these are usually groups of all peacocks or all peahens; but during the breeding season, there are harem groups of one peacock and several peahens or all bachelors.
They take a break from foraging midday, where they drink, preen their feathers and rest in the shade. They go back to foraging for food once the temperature cools down before returning to their roost for the night. They roost overnight in large groups in tall, open trees. By roosting in large groups, they are safe from predators during the night, and the males can travel through the branches.
In the wild, peafowl live 10 to 25 years. Domesticated peafowl have been known to live as long as 40 to 50 years.
Overhunting and habitat loss led to the decline of the green peacock’s population during the latter half of the 20th century. The species is now thought to number between 10,000 and 20,000 adults. The Congo peacock faces similar threats. Their population has fallen to fewer than 10,000 adults because of hunting and habitat loss.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, the blue peafowl is listed as “least concern” and the green peacock is listed as “endangered.” The Congo peacock is listed as “vulnerable.”
Green peafowl are protected by law in China, and there are public awareness campaigns underway to help these endangered birds.