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Fast Facts:

  • The word “peacock actually refers to the males, and peahen to the females. The males, with their spectacular tail feathers, are seen (or at least noticed) more often in captivity than the peahens with their more subtle tan to brown coloration.

  • The male peafowl (peacock) has a long train of green and bronze feathers adorned with blue-green spots that look like eyes. An average peacock train contains more than 200 feathers. The train, when fanned out in a courtship display, is supported by
    20 shorter tail feathers.

Common (Indian) Peafowl

Scientific Name: Pavo cristatus
Classification: Phylum Chordata; Class Aves; Order Galliformes; Family Phasianidae
Status: The peafowl is revered and protected by law in its native habitat. Peafowl are common as an ornamental bird throughout the world, and appear to be in little danger of extinction.
Range: The common peafowl is native to India and Sri Lanka. They have been introduced worldwide as a captive bird, but some do live wild or semi-wild in some introduced areas.
Diet: Peafowl will eat nearly anything, but in the wild, the birds mainly
feed on seeds, fruit, insects, worms and occasionally snakes and mice.
Size: Body Length: The average male body length is 3 to 4 feet and the 'tail' length is 4 to 5 feet. Females are considerably smaller with a body length of 2.5 to 3.5 feet; the female tale is very short.

Weight: Males weigh from 9 to 13 lbs., and females weigh between 6 and 9 lbs.
Print Fact Sheet Peafowl

Special Features:

  •  Peacock chicks, and even young hens, often try spreading their tail feathers in imitation of the male's train.
  • The main function of the peacock's train is for courtship displays. The train often provides a defense mechanism, as well; inexperienced predators attempting to catch a peacock "sometimes pounce on the long train rather than the bird's body" (Mountfort 181).
  • The export of peacock train feathers from India is now illegal.
  • Predators of the common peafowl in their native range include tigers and leopards.

Social Structure and Behavior:

In the wild, the peafowl lives in small groups in hilly forest areas. It typically roosts in trees at night. A peafowl keeps the same roost and feeds in the same place everyday.Even wild peafowl are fairly sociable animals, and often live around human settlements. The cock usually displays in a specially chosen place.

Peafowl have a "screaming alarm cry" that in the wild warns other animals, such as deer of the presence of a predator such as a leopard or tiger.

Breeding & care of young:

Peafowl typically reach sexual maturity at 2-3 years of age. Males appear to be territorial during the breeding season. A male will display in his territory by fanning his magnificent train for small groups of females (and juvenile males).

Peahens lay 4-6 eggs in nests built either on the ground or in a low tree. After 28 days, the chicks will hatch.

Peafowl and humans:

Peafowl are the national bird of India. It is considered sacred in many villages in its native range. A symbol of the goddess of learning and the god of war, it nests and walks freely through these villages.

The "'eye' of fan feathers believed to have magical powers." (Phoenix Zoo) The peafowl has been used as an ornamental bird worldwide because of its beauty, adaptability, and hardiness. The feathers of the peacock's train are often sold in India for temple decorations or for making fans (Mountfort 136).

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