7 Interesting Facts about Peafowl
As one of the most ostentatious birds, peafowls can be spotted in animal sanctuaries, zoos, or even in your very own backyard.
Initially hunted for their meat and eggs, today, they’re mostly decorative birds due to their colorful plumage and long train that opens as a fan.
If you’re a fan of peafowls, you’re going to love these 7 interesting facts about them:
1. There are only three species of peafowls in the world
There are only three species of peafowl in the world. They’re distributed in different parts of the world but bear a lot of similarities.
The Blue Peafowl is native to the Indian subcontinent, but it has been introduced in many other countries of the world. It’s also the most numerous peafowl species and the most docile in temperament.
The Green Peafowl resembles the Indian Peafowl the most, and it’s native to the tropical forests of Southeast Asia.
It’s a more aggressive species that cannot be kept in the same enclosure with other birds. The Green peafowl is also listed as endangered by the IUCN.
The third peafowl species, the Congo peafowl, is listed as vulnerable by the IUCN Red List. This peafowl species is smaller than the other two, and it’s found in the Congo Basin.
Like the Green peafowl, the Congo peafowl must also be kept apart from other birds because of their aggressive disposition.
2. Only the male peafowl is called a peacock
Often used interchangeably, the terms ‘peacock’ and ‘peafowl’ aren’t the same. Peacock is used for the male peafowl, while the female is called a peahen. Baby peafowls are called peachicks.
A group of peafowl is an ‘ostentation’, ‘pride’, or a ‘muster’.
Males are typically larger than females and have very long tail feathers that are fan-shaped. The train also features colorful eyespots that are mesmerizing when the peacock is moving the tail during courtship.
Both males and females feature a crest on their heads. In the Blue peafowl, this crest is also fan-shaped. The Congo peafowl has hairlike bristles on its head, while the Green peafowl has a tall and tight, vertical crest.
The Blue peafowl and Green Peafowl are much more colorful and ostentatious compared to the Congo peafowl, which although features multiple colors in its plumage, it’s both smaller and less impressive than its counterparts.
3. Peahens lay very few eggs
Peahens lay only about 20 eggs a year. This is very few eggs compared to the number of eggs that a chicken lays – chickens lay around 5-6 eggs per week.
The scarcity of the eggs and their large size make peafowl eggs very expensive.
If you want to try a peafowl egg, first you need to know where to buy one from. Unfortunately, grocery stores don’t carry them. The only place where you can buy a peafowl egg is from a peafowl breeder.
If you want to buy peafowl eggs to hatch them in an incubator, you must be aware that no breeder can guarantee you that the eggs are fertile. Given the high cost of the eggs, you sometimes may be better off buying peafowl chicks.
4. Peafowls can fly
Despite their long trains, peafowls can fly. They’re not long-distance fliers, nor can they fly at a high altitude or very fast, but they can fly onto trees or rooftops.
Peafowl can fly at a speed of around 10 miles per hour. They can fly for distances under one mile and at a height of 8 feet.
Peafowls lift off the ground by either running and building momentum or jumping into the air.
Despite not being the greatest of fliers, peafowl can fly very soon after hatching. Usually as soon as the age of three days old.
Even so, they won’t take flight only after a couple of weeks of hatching to avoid getting injured. By the age of 6 months old, baby peafowl can fly just as any other adult peafowl.
Despite their ability to take flight, peafowls are mostly terrestrial birds. These birds have adapted to life on the ground, spending most of their time scavenging for food.
5. They’re late bloomers
If you’re surprised that I called a 6-month-old peafowl a baby peafowl, it’s because these birds take a long time to reach the age when they become reproductive.
Peafowls reach sexual maturity only at 2 or 3 years of age. Until then, the peahen may still lay eggs, but these won’t be fertile.
During courtship, the peacock will vibrate its illustrious fan-shaped tail adorned with olive green eyespots in an attempt to impress the peahen. Food may also be offered by the peacock.
After mating, the peahen will lay her eggs in a nest that’s built under a shrub or a thicket. The female builds the nest by scraping a hole in the ground, which she then proceeds to line with leaves and sticks.
The peahen then proceeds to incubate the eggs for 28-30 days. Peachicks that are 3-4 days old will start foraging for food under the guidance of the peahen, who will teach the peachicks what they can and cannot eat.
Peachicks eat small insects, grains, seeds, berries, and even small animals.
6. They’re an omnivorous bird species
Peafowls are omnivores. They have a varied diet that includes grasses, seeds, berries, insects, amphibians, small reptiles, arthropods, flowers, and other plant parts.
Because they also eat insects and small animals, their diet is rich not only in plant matter but also animal protein as well.
This means that peafowls raised in captivity will need their diet enriched with protein as well. When raised in captivity, peafowl are fed commercial pheasant pellets or other game bird pellets as well as chopped greens and chopped fruits.
A little-known fact about the peafowl diet is that they’ll also eat snakes. They won’t allow snakes to live on their grounds, so they will actively hunt down snakes and fight them, even if they’re poisonous.
7. Some peacocks are all-white
Peafowl are normally bursting with color. One of the most impressively colored peafowl species, the Blue peafowl showcases metallic blue, light blue, green, olive green, rufous brown colors.
The Green peafowl showcases green, yellow-green, vermilion, and buff-colored feathers, while the Congo peafowl has indigo blue, black, green, chestnut, or brown colored plumage.
While most peafowl are colorful birds, in rare cases a peafowl can be all-white. A rare genetic mutation causes the feathers of the Indian peafowl to grow all-white.
Mind you, white peafowls can’t be found in the wild. The color white would easily attract predators.
White peafowls have only been recorded in captivity, and the recessive gene that’s behind the lack of color in the feathers emerged only in the safety of captivity.
White peacocks have blue eyes and pink skin pigment, which means they’re not albinos. Albinos don’t have any skin pigment and their eyes are pink or red.
Peacocks can also be partially white, meaning that parts of the plumage of the Indian peafowl are bursting with color, while other parts are completely white.
Both all-white peafowls and partially white peafowls look extremely beautiful and unique.
Hopefully, I have managed to surprise you with some of these interesting facts about peafowls.
These birds are interesting not only because of the color of their plumage and elaborate train feathers, but also because of their docile nature – in the case of the Indian peafowl – and intelligence.
They’re also somewhat atypical birds – although they can take flight, they’re mostly terrestrial birds that enjoy an omnivorous diet.
While they have been considered a delicacy, today, these birds aren’t bred for their meat or eggs, instead they’re decorative birds that are often kept as pets.