How to Tell if Peacock is Male or Female?

In some birds, it can be hard to tell the difference between the male and the female. Peafowls can be easier to distinguish by gender if you’re comparing adults. For juveniles, the lines are very much blurred.

For starters, peacocks are larger, more colorful, and sport a train, while peahens are less showy, looking drab and dull against a peacock.

By the end of this article, you’ll be able to tell if a peacock is male or female, just by simply looking at a few physical traits.

Male vs Female Peafowl – What is the Difference?

As you might have guessed from the introduction to the article, the term ‘peafowl’ refers to both genders of the species. The term ‘peacock’ refers only to the male, while the term ‘peahen’ refers to the female.

Male and female peafowl are not just called differently, they also look different. Here are some of the aspects that will help you identify which peafowl is the male and which is the female.

– Plumage and Colors

Of the two genders, the peacock is hands down the most impressive. The Indian Peafowl is the most widespread and most recognizable of all the peafowl species.

It’s a heavy-bodied bird with metallic blue plumage and exquisite tail feathers called a ‘train’. Technically, the train feathers grow out of the base of the tail, and the peacock uses its much shorter tail feathers to raise the train and open it up like a fan.

If you’ve never seen a peacock showcase its train, do yourself a favor and watch a video of it. It’s a mesmerizingly beautiful sight that will definitely make you more appreciative of these birds.

The train of a peacock can be as much as 6 feet tall. The feathers are adorned with olive green eyespots that make it even more enchanting.

Peahens don’t have a train; their tail feathers are much shorter. They have iridescent green necks, and the rest of the plumage is colored with various tones of brown.

Both genders have crest feathers on their heads. But the ones on the peacock are blue or green, while those on the female are brown or cream.

– Size and Weight

After the mating season, the peacock can lose its train feathers, and can look similar to the peahen. However, because of the differences in size, you’ll still be able to tell them apart.

Peacocks weigh around 8.8-13.2 lb (4-6 kg) and grow to a length of 77 to 89 in (195 to 225 cm) train included. Peahens weigh only 6.1-8.8 lbs (2.74-4 kg) and grow to a length of 37 in (95 cm).

So, if you see two peafowls side by side, and one is more colorful than the other, as well as much larger, it’s safe to assume it’s a peacock and not a peahen.

– Behavior

Blue peafowls are docile by nature. They can get along well with other poultry including chicken, ducks, turkeys, etc., which means they can be kept in the same enclosure if there’s plenty of space.

After all, peafowls are large birds and need a lot of space to feel comfortable and forage at will on the grounds.

Peafowls can exhibit aggressive behaviors during the mating season, but the aggression is usually exhibited towards other peafowls they’re competing against.

Unlike the Blue peafowl, the two other species of peafowl – the green peafowl and the Congo peafowl – are much more aggressive and cannot be kept together with other birds.

– Vocalization

If you didn’t know that peafowls are loud birds, make sure to take this into account before buying peafowls.

The peacock is loudest, its honk-like mating call can carry for miles. Peahens aren’t as loud, but their foghorn call is loud enough to be noticed.

Peafowls call out for various reasons such as announcing their presence when entering their habitat, alerting others when predators are present, calls to attract a mate, etc.

The calls have often been described as a loud honking noise, the noise made by a foghorn, or as a cat meowing or a baby crying.

At What Age Can You Sex Peafowl?

Mature peafowls can be easy to tell apart. But that’s not the case with juveniles. Juvenile peacocks can be hard to tell apart from the peahen. Their drab colors are the same as the peahen’s plumage.

Things change, however, when peacocks reach the age of 5 months old. It’s then that they begin to develop their colored chests. But even then, distinguishing them from the peahen can be challenging.

The ornate feathers of the train will only start developing once the peacock reaches the age of one year. From then on, it can take a further two more years for the train of a peacock to fully develop.

Therefore, sexing peafowls can be more accurately done after one year of age.

Do Peacocks Change Their Gender?

Some birds can change their gender. The female Mandarin duck, for example, can revert to male characteristics if there’s loss of the suppressing estrogen hormones, which can cause the cells of the right-side vestigial ovary to masculinize, and can ultimately even develop into a testis.

However, this reversal of the gender does have a tragic outcome for the health of these birds – most will develop illnesses as a result and their lifespans can be significantly shortened.

But it’s not only the Mandarin duck that can undergo a reversal of the gender. The phenomenon has been observed in peafowls as well.

Although these hormonal changes can trigger changes in the sex of these birds, the phenomenon is rare.

Conclusion

Mature peahens and peacocks are very easy to tell apart. This becomes very difficult when you’re trying to determine the sex of juvenile peafowls.

Peahens mature much sooner, but peacocks become fully mature only at three years of age. Until then, there are still things that can help you determine, with a high degree of certainty, if your peafowl is a male or a female.

Colorful crest feathers, colorful chest, and colorful ornate tail feathers are all tell-tale signs of the peacock.

Peafowl   Updated: November 23, 2022
avatar Hey, I'm James, a hardworking homesteader for more than 30 years. I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment that comes from tending my flock. I've raised chickens and ducks for eggs and meat for many years. I also have experience with other poultry too.

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