STATUS IN THE WILD: Least Concern
RANGE: Native to India and Sri Lanka
PHYSICAL FEATURES AND CHARACTERISTICS
The beautiful, long-feathered train of the male “peacock” is the most distinctive and well-recognized feature of the Indian peafowl, also known as the Indian blue peafowl. The male’s total body length is approximately 7.5 feet long, with the train averaging 4.62 to 5.28 feet long. He has a fan-shaped crest, a metallic blue head, and a bright blue neck and upper body. The tail has long, ornamental feathers with black eyespots on the rounded tips. The peacock weighs approximately 6.06 to 8.8 pounds.
The female “peahen” has a chestnut-brown crest and neck with feathers bordered in bronze and metallic green. The train is present, but it is much shorter than the males’ and does not have the distinctive eyespots. Peahens weigh slightly less than peacocks.
LIFESTYLE AND REPRODUCTION
Preferring to live an isolated life, peafowl forage for food on the ground by day and roost in trees (or on rooftops) at night for safety. They can often be seen taking dust baths, which help get rid of unwanted parasites and bugs. Getting wet weighs their feathers down; if they do get wet they wait in a safe location until dry. Peafowl are known to preen, especially the peacocks. The birds have a very loud, distinctive call sounding like “kee-ow.” The call is commonly used to announce the presence of the male during mating season but is also heard in the late afternoon and after dark.
Peahens become sexually mature at approximately three years of age. The peacocks can become mature as early as two years of age. The peafowl are polygamous, and a single dominant male may mate with up to six females during breeding season. The peacock’s beautiful train is an important part of the mating courtship. Peahens instinctively “read” the feathers and the eyespots on the feathers to gather important information.
A peahen will typically lay three to five eggs, but sometimes up to twelve. Their nest is made of sticks and leaves, usually inside a depression on the ground under a bush. The incubation period is approximately twenty-eight days.
The yellow peachicks are fully feathered at hatching and can fly in about one week. The peahen stays with them for several weeks, teaching the peachicks to eat and drink by imitating her.
Peafowl can live up to twenty-five years in the wild but sixteen years is the average.
The native range of the Indian peafowl extends from India and Sri Lanka to Pakistan, Bhutan, Bangladesh, and Nepal. Captive peafowl are found throughout the world. Feral populations also occur in Australia, New Zealand, the Bahamas, and the United States.
These birds live in open forests with underbrush, stream-side forests, orchards, and other cultivated areas. They have also adapted well to urban areas.
The peafowl’s omnivorous diet includes amphibians, small mammals, insects, worms, leaves, roots, tubers, seeds, grains, nuts, berries, and flowers.