Peacock (Pavo cristatus)


Class: Aves
Order: Galliformes
Family:    Phasianidae
Size:    Length: 2.5 to 3.5 feet (0.7 to 1 m), male tail length is 4 to 5 feet (1.2 to 1.5 m)
Weight: 6 to 13 pounds (2.7 to 6 kg)
Diet: Grain, seeds, fruit, insects, small rodents and even poisonous snakes
Distribution: India and Sri Lanka
Young:  4 to 8 chicks
Animal Predators:  Lions, tigers and other carnivorous animals
IUCN Status: No special status
Terms: Male: Peacock  Female: Peahen  Young: Peachick
Lifespan: 20 to 30 years



·      The peacock was declared the National Bird of India in 1963.

·      In India, peafowl are protected by Hindu law, which holds them sacred.

·      The peacock is featured in Greek and Roman mythology, as well as in the Bible.



Males have a long train of approximately 150 bright green feathers that actually cover the tail feathers; the tail feathers are short, stiff quills. These green feathers have “eye marks”—black circles surrounded by blue and orange that create a stunning display when males raise and open the tail like a fan. They then vibrate the feathers in an impressive, shimmering show, done especially to attract females. The head, neck and chest area of  peacocks are metallic blue and they have a crest of blue feathers jutting up from their head. Peahens also have a crest of blue feathers, but they are smaller than the male’s. Females’ necks are green and the rest of the feathers are a light brown. Females are smaller than males and they have no train of feathers.



There are three different species of peafowls. Pavo cristatus is native to India and Sri Lanka and still lives there in the wild. The other two other species are the Javanese peacock and the Congo peacock. The latter was discovered in 1936 after a 23-year-long search originating from the finding of a single feather. Peafowl can be found in tropical, deciduous forests as well in cultivated fields. 


Feeding Habits

During the day, peafowl sunbathe and feed on the ground. They eat a variety of foods, including grain, fruit, insects and snakes. Always close to a convenient water source, they return to the same watering hole each day at dusk before roosting in a tree for the night.



Peacocks form harems that include up to five peahens. Females select a male to mate with based on the number of “eye marks” he has, as shown during his display. Over a period of a few days, the male will mate with each female in the harem. The females head off to their nests alone after mating has taken place. Peahens dig a shallow cavity in the ground in a sheltered area and line it with leaves before laying their eggs one at a time, up to two days apart. The eggs hatch in approximately one month. Young peafowl, less than one year of age, are called peachicks. At first, they resemble yellow balls of fluff. At night, they are tucked under the mother’s wings to protect them and keep them warm, and during the day, mothers teach them how to find food. The peachicks stay with their mother for seven to nine weeks.



Peacocks are actually the male members of this family—the females are called peahens and the name for either is a peafowl. Peafowl are birds that live in the rainforest, in small family flocks. They are sedentary and prefer to stay in the same basic area. Peafowl are good flyers, and at night they roost in trees.  Peacocks can be noisy birds, especially in mating season, and they also shriek loudly when they sense danger approaching.



The current population of peafowl is not of conservation concern at this time.



Peacock Wildlife Fact File, IM Pub, US

Harrison, C. and Greensmith, A. (1993). Birds of the World. London: Dorling Kindersley Limited