Standing majestically and reflecting the essence of pride, these beautiful birds have fascinated humans throughout the ages. There’s a lot to learn and in this post, you’ll discover the ultimate list of facts about peacocks.
Interesting facts about peacocks
1. It’s not really their name
Did you know that only the male birds are referred to as “peacocks?” The general name of the bird is the Peafowl and the female name is the Peahen. Finally, when a young peafowl bird is born, it’s referred to as a Peachick.
Peacock is usually the general name given to the birds with the amazing feathers, regardless of their sex or age.
2. What’s the name of the amazing feathers of the Peafowl
The amazing looking feathers of the Peacock is called a “train.” The train consists of covert feathers, meaning the feathers cover each other.
3. And what do we call a group of Peafowls?
A group of peafowls is often referred to as a “bevy,” which is also the same name given to a group of quails. Other names given to a group or family of peafowls are an “ostentation,” a “muster,” or a “party.”
4. The peafowl is a small family
One of the most interesting facts about peacocks is that the family consists of just 3 species that originate from 3 different regions.
- The Indian Peafowl, found in both India and Sri Lanka.
- The green peafowl from South-East Asia (from Myanmar to Java).
- The Congo peafowl originates only from the Congo Basin.
5. They prefer a specific type of habitat
Even though peafowls can be found all over the world, they especially prefer their natural habitat which is forests and rainforests. They nest on the ground but roost in trees.
6. They eat just about everything
Peafowls are true omnivores and will eat just about anything that they can stomach. This includes various sorts of plants, flowers, seeds, insects, arthropods, reptiles and much more.
7. They can live very long
The peacocks and peahens that are held in parks and zoos all around the world can live up to 50 years. In the wild, however, their lifespan is cut short because of all the dangers they face, and usually have an average lifespan of about 20 years.
8. Only peacocks have amazing trains
These birds are mostly known for their amazing tails, which are called trains. But only the male peafowl, the peacock, has this tail.
9. You wouldn’t know when they are born
When peafowls are born, the peacocks and peahens look exactly the same! You wouldn’t know until after about 6 months, because that’s when the peacocks start to change colors and start to develop their amazing trains.
The color of newly born peachicks is about the same for all 3 species and ranges from yellow to tawny. They mostly have spots of brown, light tan and ivory color as well.
10. Two species’ trains really stand out
Of the 3 species of peafowls, the Indian Peafowl and the green Peafowl have the most amazing trains. The train of the Congo peafowl is much less impressive and its feathers are much shorter.
11. Indian Peacocks and peahens differ in many ways
It’s true that the Indian peacocks stand out for their amazing train, which Indian peahens don’t possess. Apart from that, they also look rather dull and grey or brown. Indian Peacocks can be as much as twice the size of their female counterparts.
Remarkably, green peahens are about the same size as the green peacocks. They only differ in that they have shorter upper tail coverts, a more coppery neck, and overall less iridescence.
12. They have feathers on top of their heads
All sexes of all species have a special type of crest on top of their heads. A crest is a comb of feathers. Even though all species possess these, the colors can vary.
13. Hybrids can tolerate cold weather
Ever wonder why peacocks can survive in cold countries when their natural habitat is actually tropical rainforests? That’s because these are hybrids of green and Indian peafowls which look very similar to the real green peafowl. Unlike the real green peafowl who is cold-intolerant, they can easily live in cold places.
These hybrids are called “Spaldings” after the person to first successfully hybridize them, Mrs. Keith Spading.
14. Indian and green peacocks have different colors
While the train of both the Indian and green peacocks look very similar to each other, the colors differ. The Indian peacock’s body feathers are mostly metallic blue-green. The green peacock has green and bronze body feathers.
15. White peafowls exist
A small percentage of the peafowls have a condition called leucism, a condition in which there is a loss of pigmentation in an animal that causes white, pale, or patchy coloration of the skin, and in the case of peafowls, the feathers. The results of this condition are pretty much amazing.
16. The train is used to attract females
As you might have suspected, the peacock’s amazing train is used to lure in peahens into its harem. The more amazing the train looks, the more peahens that will be attracted to the peacock.
A study has shown that females pay attention to certain areas of the train during the mating ritual, which confirms Charles Darwin’s theory regarding sexual selection.
17. All peacocks are polygamous
Just like all other types of Galliformes such as chickens, turkeys or goose, all species of peafowls are polygamous. They don’t have such an amazing train and put in all this effort to attract just one female. During mating season, one peacock attracts two to five peahens, depending on his efforts.
18. They produce infrasonic sounds
Apart from the amazing visual display, there is something much deeper going on when the peacocks flaunt their amazing trains. A study has shown that they are able to produce an infrasonic sound that human beings can’t hear, and both peacocks and peahen respond to it.
This simply means that apart from what we see during the mating ritual, the peacock’s train is actually a multimodal signal to attract peahens and warn other peacocks not to interfere with their business.
19. Peacocks lose their feathers every year
Unlike animals that have their most valuable possessions attached to them (think of ivory on elephants), peacocks don’t have to be killed to acquire their feathers.
Once a year, after mating season and the train has done its job, the peacock loses its feathers. Luckily for them, they grow a new train to get them ready for a new mating season the following year.
Unlike for instance Mountain Lions, who like to remain solitary most of the time, peafowls are very social animals and love to group together with a few of their fellow peafowls.
21. Can peafowls actually fly?
It doesn’t seem likely that peafowls can fly. Their train can reach up to 1.5 meters (about 5 ft) which makes up about 60 percent of their body.
They do however possess covert feathers which are very effective for the airflow, allowing them to fly. So yes, Peafowls can fly to the top of a tree and usually do so in order to get away from predators or when its time to roost.
22. Their train doesn’t make a difference to fly
You would assume that the huge train of the peacock would make them an easy target for predators that live abound in their natural habitat. According to a study, however, the train of the peacock doesn’t significantly decrease their mobility at all.
23. Peacocks were imported to all over the world
Peacocks are held everywhere in the world, and importing these beautiful birds from its native region of South and South-East Asia has been ongoing for thousands of years.
The first people to import and domesticate peacocks were the Chinese, followed by the Mesopotamian culture about 4,000 years ago. About 3,000 years ago, Phoenicians, who lived in the Lebanon-Syria area of today, imported peacocks to Egypt from which the bird spread to Europe.
24. Peacocks were a delicacy in medieval times
While the poorest people in medieval times were sometimes able to eat chickens, the rich usually had different tastes. Apart from being able to beautifully decorate the dinner table with the feathers of the peacock, the birds were also consumed.
The problem? The bird’s meat tasted horrible and was difficult to digest, so it’s no wonder this trend didn’t catch on and that its consumption was more of a status symbol than a gastronomic delight.
25. Peacocks can fake sexual activity
One of the most interesting facts about peacocks is that these birds aren’t just nice to look at, according to one study, they are also clever when it comes to attracting partners.
The “song” produced by peacocks during mating is sometimes also used to fake sexual activity and lure in more females. Peahens consider this vocalization to be attractive.
What this simply means is that peacocks pretend to be mating while they are actually not. This way they prove that they are sexually active which as a result attracts the peahens.
Pretty sneaky, don’t you think?
26. Green peacocks don’t like their fellow species
If you have ever seen two roosters engage in a battle to the death when put together, then you know what to expect when a green Peacocks are put together with either Indian or Congo peacocks.
That’s right, the green peacocks are the most aggressive ones and would attack without the need for provocation.
27. The peacock is a national bird of India
For an animal to be declared a “National Animal,” it needs to be a designated representative of the fauna of a country, and it should uphold certain qualities the country possesses. For this reason, the peacock has been chosen as a National Bird of India and has been since 1963.
28. Their feathers hold a significant secret
The feathers of the peacock are what makes this bird stand out. The shiny appearance has mesmerized cultures for thousands of years.
The reason they are so shiny is that they are covered in two-dimensional photonic-crystal structures that reflect different light depending on how they are spaced. This gives the feathers their bright fluorescent colors.