peacock facts

12 Surprising Peacock Facts About These Majestic Birds

Striking peacocks have piqued interest among nature enthusiasts worldwide thanks to their beautiful feathers and dazzling beauty. 

Besides decoration, the distinctly colorful peacock feathers are crucial elements in their mating rituals. During mating season, male peafowls put on a dazzling display to attract females. With their tails fully fanned out, they engage in a mesmerizing dance, rhythmically shaking their feathers while emitting enchanting calls.

Read on as we further investigate these peacock facts and more, and what makes these birds truly unique.

Or, for more from these colorful characters, read what the great minds of history have to say about these beautiful birds in our peacock quotes! Or how about this post about our bird facts in general?

11 Surprising Peacock Facts

peacock's front view
Photo by Siddhant Kumar on Unsplash

1. Peacocks have iconic colorful tail feathers.

The peacock's iridescent feathers don't come from pigments. Instead, they are a product of microscopic structures within each peacock feather. These intricate structures bend and reflect light to produce the peacock's vibrant colors. Moreover, these colors change when the viewer looks at the bird from different angles3.

Besides the color, their train comprises long feathers that stretch up to 6 feet. Each feather in the train features an eye-like pattern known as an ocellus. During courtship displays, the vibrant patterns dazzle potential mates4. They also deter predators because they look like giant watchful eyes. 

2. Peacock trains follow the Fibonacci sequence.

peacock's colorful feathers
Photo by Harshitha B J on Unsplash

A peacock's tail feathers are doubly mesmerizing because they follow the Fibonacci sequence: a series of numbers where each number is the sum of the two before it (0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, and so on). Throughout nature, the Fibonacci sequence appears in pinecone spirals, leaf arrangements on a stem, and seed patterns in sunflowers.

Moreover, the Fibonacci sequence creates an illusion of depth and movement, attracting potential mates. Research indicates that peahens are more attracted to peacock trains with more ocelli2.

3. There are three peacock species in the world.

peacock's side view
Photo by Priyan Solanki on Unsplash

Peacocks belong to the pheasant family Phasianidae. Three peacock species exist: the Indian Peacock, the Green Peacock, and the Congo Peafowl. Also known as the blue peacock, the Indian Peacock carries blue and green feathers and thrives in the forests and grasslands of South Asia and the Indian subcontinent. They also live near water. Its stunning appearance has earned it official renown as the national bird of India.

On the other hand, the Green Peacock lives in Southeast Asia, particularly in Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and Indonesia. Besides its green and bronze plumage, it also carries an elegant crest. This bird lives in tropical and subtropical forests, grasslands, and bamboo groves. 

Finally, the Congo Peafowl is the smallest and most secretive of the trio. It lives in the dense rainforests of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Central Africa. Moreover, its feathers are more subtle than the others, featuring a mix of blue, green, and reddish-brown feathers.

4. Peacocks are male birds.

Only the males flaunt bright feathers to attract their female counterparts, which have more subdued colors. Peacock feathers indicate vitality and genetic fitness. On the other hand, the female peacock, or peahen, has brown and grey feathers that provide effective camouflage.

During the breeding season, the male gathers a group of two to five female peafowls, and every one of them lays four to eight eggs with whitish shells in a hollow on the ground. The eggs are sat on by the peahen until they hatch about four weeks later.

Baby peafowl have yet to develop their adult counterparts' distinctive traits. Male and female peachicks have nearly identical colors and feather patterns. 

However, the male chicks begin to develop their iconic trains when they reach their third year. At this stage, the peacock's vibrant feathers become essential tools in pursuing a mate.

5. Peacocks are omnivorous birds.

peacock on grass
Photo by Florian Glawogger on Unsplash

As opportunistic omnivores, peacocks eat whatever they can find. Their favorite meals include insects, like ants, termites, and crickets. Besides satisfying their hunger, these protein-rich critters also help maintain the luster of their feathers1

Besides insects, this beautiful bird feeds on seeds, grasses, and leaves. Furthermore, peafowls love the ripe and seasonal fruit varieties and indulge in nutrient-rich sweet fruits. However, peacocks can eat rodents, lizards, and even small snakes when food gets scarce.

6. Peacocks spend most of their time in trees.

Next on our fun peacock facts is their ability to fly. Peacocks rely on their robust wings and powerful legs to fly and perch on tree branches. Usually, they perch on thick branches near water. They also spend nights roosting high above the ground.

From this position, they can assess their surroundings and protect themselves from predators like wild cats, snakes, and large birds of prey. During the day, peacocks forage on the ground while remaining alert. They can fly back to the trees whenever threatened. 

Around 3-4 months, young peacocks learn to fly and roost. Despite being capable flyers, peacocks prefer to hop from branch to branch before selecting a roosting spot.

Keep reading to discover more peacock facts, including the conservation status of one of the world's largest flying birds!

7. Peacocks use their trains to attract females.

white peacock
A white peacock. Known as leucistic peafowl, they are a rare sight, often misperceived as albinos. They are, in fact, a result of a genetic variant that causes reduced pigmentation in the peacock's feathers.

During mating season, male peacocks perform a beautiful courtship ritual where these colorful pheasants display their radiant trains of large feathers. These displays are crucial to their reproductive success. Besides the spectacle, males produce high-pitched calls and low-frequency hoots to attract females (peahens).

As the ritual begins, the male peacock fans out his train to reveal the shimmering ocelli of the train. Then he waves his feathers in a skillful dance while the peahens watch closely.

Additionally, peahens tend to favor males with larger and more vibrant trains with more ocelli. Finally, after mating season, the peacocks shed these feathers during molting.

Flamingos are another bird species known for their excellent plumage. Learn more about these pink birds by reading our Flamingo fun facts

8. Peacocks can live for 20 years in the wild.

peacock flaunting its feather
Photo by Steve Harvey on Unsplash

In the wild, peafowl can live for 15 to 20 years. Their longevity can be credited to their sharp survival instincts, such as roosting high in trees. However, captive peafowl can live for up to 25 years. A stable environment, consistent food supply, and absence of natural predators contribute to this extended lifespan. 

9. Peacocks can be kept as pets.

Unlike other bird species, such as parrots, peacocks are relatively low-maintenance, provided owners can meet their needs. Prospective peacock owners should be ready to provide a roomy, secure space to wander, forage, and display their magnificent trains easily. 

Peacocks are social birds, so they can coexist with most birds. They flourish in the company of other peafowls, but they can also get along with chickens and ducks.

However, these birds can get noisy, particularly during mating season. The peacock sound of "kee-ow," a far-reaching, piercing cry might not make your neighbors very happy. Moreover, peacocks are territorial. They might become aggressive when a pet or another human intrudes into their space. So, owners should stay attuned to their pet's instincts. 

Peacocks also need a balanced diet, a clean living space, and adequate shelter to protect against predators or harsh weather conditions.

10. Peacocks are symbols of wealth and high social status.

peacock's close up view
Photo by Stephen Hickman on Unsplash

Peacocks have long symbolized wealth and high social status. In various cultures, these birds have graced the gardens of palaces and royal estates. 

In ancient Rome, peacocks were coveted possessions imported from the Indian subcontinent. Meanwhile, medieval European aristocrats considered peafowl the epitome of elegance and luxury. 

Their presence in castle gardens often indicated the owner's rank and prestige. They are also found in paintings and early Christian mosaics. Today, peacock motifs remain in affluent homes and luxury products. Moreover, in modern times, peacocks appear in high-end fashion and décor. 

11. Peahens are quite Intelligent.

Peahens, though perhaps less flamboyant than their male counterparts, possess a trait that is quite fascinating - a keen intelligence that often goes unnoticed.

These birds are not just beautiful to look at but are also clever birds. Peahens possess an impressive ability to solve problems. Their world isn't merely about survival and reproduction; they navigate their environment with a keen sense of awareness, making calculated decisions and responding effectively to various stimuli.

Perhaps one of the most intriguing aspects of peahen intelligence is their ability to differentiate between individual peacocks. Just as humans can recognize others by unique facial features, peahens can pick out individual peacocks based on their distinctive color patterns and tail feathers.

12. Some peacock species are endangered.

peacock on rock
Photo by Viktor Shimin on Unsplash

Among the three peacock species, the Indian Blue Peafowl (Pavo cristatus), or the blue peafowl, has been classified as a species of Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Although facing habitat loss and sporadic hunting for its feathers, the population of blue peacocks remains relatively stable. As the national bird of India, the Indian peafowl benefits from legal protection.

On the other hand, the Green Peafowl (Pavo muticus) is an endangered species. Its populations have declined by 50% over the past two decades. The Green Peafowl's primary threats include deforestation, agricultural land conversion, and hunting for food and feathers. 

Similarly, the Congo Peacock (Afropavo congensis) is a vulnerable species. This bird grapples with deforestation, mining activities, and bushmeat hunting. 

What is your favorite peacock fact? Remember to share it with your friends!

Related: To further explore the animal kingdom, check out some of the other animals that start with P.

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1

Ramesh, T., & McGowan, P. J. K. (2009). On the current status of Indian Peafowl Pavo cristatus (Aves: Galliformes: Phasianidae) with reference to its feeding habits and food. Journal of Threatened Taxa, 1(11), 558-562

2

Dakin, R., & Montgomerie, R. (2013). Eye for an eyespot: how iridescent plumage ocelli influence peacock mating success. Behavioral Ecology, 24(5), 1048-1057.

3

Dakin, R., & Montgomerie, R. (2011). Peacocks orient their courtship displays towards the sun. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 65(6), 1287-1294.

4

Dakin, R., & Montgomerie, R. (2011). Peacocks orient their courtship displays towards the sun. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 65(6), 1287-1294.

Mike is a degree-qualified researcher and writer passionate about increasing global awareness about climate change and encouraging people to act collectively in resolving these issues.

Fact Checked By:
Chinny Verana, BSc.

Photo by Michael Hacker on Unsplash
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