Congo Peafowl – Breed Profile & Facts
As the national bird of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Congo Peafowl is an African peafowl with iridescent green and deep blue plumage. While less striking than their Indian cousins, the Congo Peafowl is still an impressive bird.
Unfortunately, it’s also listed as a vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
If you’re curious to find out more about the Congo peafowl, its care requirements, temperament, diet, and health, I invite you to read this article.
What is a Congo Peafowl?
The Congo peafowl is one of the three peafowl species in the world, the other two being the Indian peafowl and the Green peafowl.
This bird is part of the pheasant family, and it’s the only true pheasant native to Africa.
It is found mostly in the northern half of the Democratic Republic of Congo, especially in intact forests along the basin of the river Congo.
Less showy than the Blue or Green Peafowl, the Congo peafowl has the shape of a guinea fowl. Its plumage, however, is evocative of the iridescent blue and green colors of its Asian and Indian cousins.
The male Congo peafowl is about the size of a turkey, features blackish head, neck, and underpants. The plumage features indigo and brownish green portions on the upperpants.
The fan-like crest that we’re so familiar with in the Indian and Green peafowl is a bit different in the Congo Peafowl. The crest is white – sometimes with black portions – and it has bristle-like hairs instead of feathers.
The head also features gray facial skin and the neck features a bare throat patch that’s red.
I’d argue that in the case of the Congo Peafowl, the female is the more impressive – the rusty brown plumage on the underpants and chest combined with the glittering, mossy-green upperpants are a much better color combination.
The crest on the female’s head is shorter and rusty brown just like the underpants.
Congo Peafowl Characteristics
Next, let’s see some other characteristics of the Congo peafowl and how some of these compare to the more common, Indian peafowl.
– Size & Weight
The males of the species have a length of about 64–70 cm (25–28 in), while the female is 60–63 centimeters (24–25 in) in length.
Males of the species are not only larger, but they also weigh more – 1.5kg (3.3lbs). Females weigh just 1.2kg (2.6lbs).
As opposed to the Blue peafowl, which has a docile personality and an easy-going nature, the Congo peafowl is shy and prefers staying hidden in the forest.
Because it’s rarely seen, estimates of the Congo peafowl population in the wild are not accurate. According to estimates, the Congo peafowl population in the wild is somewhere between 3,750 and 15,000.
Unfortunately, logging activities, shifting cultivation, hunting, and mining activities have led to habitat loss and subsequently, the decline of the Congo fowl population.
These birds have a lifespan between 15 to 20 years. In the wild, their lifespan can be cut short by a number of factors including predators, diseases, and habitat loss.
Congo peafowls raised in captivity tend to live longer than their peers in the wild.
– Egg Production
When courting, the male of the species fan their tail feathers, which are both shorter than that of the Indian peacock and lack the eyespots that are so iconic for that species.
Congo peafowl become sexually mature at two years of age.
Besides the displaying of the tail feathers, another aspect of the Congo peafowl courtship is the offering of food for the potential mate.
The female lays 2-4 brown eggs in a hollow in the ground, then proceeds to incubate the eggs for 28 days.
Both parents help raise the chicks, which is a common occurrence in monogamous birds like the peafowl.
– Meat Production
Peafowl meat and eggs are edible, however, given the vulnerability of this species, their hunt and the collection of their eggs is prohibited. Poaching is one of the causes of the decline in their numbers in the wild.
Breeding programs in Congo and in Belgium are attempting to help the declining population of this peafowl species.
While historically peafowl meat was consumed by people, breeding peafowl for meat consumption is not as common today. Peafowl meat is consumed at a larger scale only in a few countries in the world.
Congo Peafowl Care
When raised in captivity, the Congo peafowl has some basic requirements that are easy to meet. Here’s what to feed them, house them, and what health problems you should watch out for:
– Feeding & Nutrition
Peafowls are an omnivorous species, feeding on a variety of food types including fruits, insects, invertebrates, grasses, and seeds.
In captivity, these birds are fed complete diets in the form of pellets and grains. Commercial pheasant diets work great for these birds.
It’s important to feed Congo peafowls a complete diet to mimic the variety of foods they have access to in the wild.
Likewise, nutritional deficiencies can make these birds susceptible to diseases.
Peafowls can be kept in both covered and uncovered enclosures. While they can fly, they rarely do so, and prefer to stick around their territories.
Besides, if the fences of the enclosure are built high enough, Congo peafowl cannot fly over it.
Because they’re ground foragers, it’s important to offer them plenty of space for foraging.
As for housing, peafowl require protection against the elements, whether it’s the heat in the summer or the frost in the winter. Likewise, they need cover from rain and snow.
If they get wet, their feathers are susceptible to breakage.
In winter, they also need a dry and warm coop very much like the coops offered for chicken and other poultry.
– Health Problems
Peafowl are generally healthy, disease-resistant birds. That said, incomplete nutrition or nutritional deficiencies along with inadequate housing can make these birds susceptible to diseases.
Viruses like the avian pox, parasitic infections, and other respiratory infections can also cause problems in peafowl.
It’s important to monitor the health of your peafowl, including testing stool samples for parasites.
Adequate housing during winter or rainy weather is another way to ensure your peafowl are less susceptible to diseases.
How Much do Congo Peafowl Cost?
You can buy a common peafowl with a couple of hundred dollars, but given the vulnerable nature of the Congo peafowl, buying one from a breeder may not be possible. At least not unless you’re a zoo or other such organization.
Because these birds are rare varieties, it’s safe to assume that they can cost much more than a couple of hundred dollars, nearing numbers in the thousands.
In any event, unlike the Blue Peafowl, keeping the Congo peafowl as a pet may not be possible, especially that they have a different personality and temperament compared to the common peafowl.
Are Congo Peafowl Good for Beginners?
Congo peafowl are just as easy to care for as the Blue peafowl. But just because they’re not high maintenance, it doesn’t mean they also make good pets.
Unlike the common peafowl, the Congo peafowl has a shy, more elusive nature, so it may not necessarily enjoy being petted or enjoy the company of other birds.
Another hurdle in the way of keeping the Congo peafowl as a pet is their classification as a vulnerable species by the IUCN.
Given that it’s a vulnerable species, its ownership is regulated, meaning that they cannot be bought, sold, or owned just by anyone.
Another issue is their high cost, which is far higher than that of a common peafowl.
Are Congo Peafowl Hardy?
Yes, Congo peafowl are hardy birds. Their classification as vulnerable is not caused by anything related to their disease-resistance. Instead, it’s related to habitat loss, which is expedited by mining, logging, and agricultural activities.
Another issue is poaching activities. Egg collection and hunting have also led to the decline of the Congo peafowl population.
Just because these birds have an innate resistance to diseases, it doesn’t mean they don’t have to be taken good care of.
Adequate housing, diet and disease prevention can ensure that these birds will have a long lifespan.
Can Congo Peafowl Fly?
Yes, Congo peafowl can fly. They’re not the best flyers, however. They can fly for short distances at a speed of 10 miles per hour. They don’t fly that high either, they usually fly at a height of 8 feet.
Because they’re not that good at flying, nor are they willing to fly at any given time, they can be allowed to roam freely in an enclosure, especially if the fences are high enough.
Normally, when these birds are disturbed, they start running before they take flight. While running, they also flap their wings to build momentum, and only then take flight.
They usually fly to a tree or a bush for cover or to escape predators. Because they take a bit longer to become airborne, they’re not that great at escaping predators.
Tips on Keeping Congo Peafowls
To ensure the health and longevity of Congo peafowls, the following basic care tips can go a long way:
- Ensure adequate housing with dedicated space for foraging.
- Protect these birds from the elements – rain, strong sunshine, heat, snow, and frost.
- Provide easy access to clean and fresh water.
- Avoid keeping these birds in crowded enclosures or coops.
- Monitor health by testing stool samples for parasites.
- Keep the enclosure clean and dry.
- Provide a complete diet to meet all the nutritional demands of these birds.
As you can see, these tips are not something revolutionary or out of the ordinary. These are essentially the basic needs of any birds raised in captivity or kept as pets.
The Congo peafowl is both smaller and less showy than the common peafowl. It also has a different temperament. Yet despite these differences, these birds are related.
To me, the Congo peahen looks much more spectacular than the male. The Congo peahen is smaller and weighs less than its male counterpart.
Neither of the sexes are good flyers. They are, however, good parents to their chicks, raising and taking care of them together.
Congo peafowl are monogamous, pairs staying together for multiple years, and not just a single breeding season.