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The Amazing Peacock: Facts and Photos

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I'm a dental hygienist, pyrography artist, avid gardener, writer, vegetarian, world traveler, and many other things!

The beautiful and amazing peacock.

The beautiful and amazing peacock.

From their dazzling coloring to their distinct and haunting calls, I've always been intrigued by peacocks, but suffered from never knowing anything about them.

I set out to discover more and was surprised to find a much wider range of colors and patterns than I'd anticipated, not to mention more information than I'd anticipated!

Most of us don't live with peacocks roaming around, and only get to see them once in a while; at the zoo, on vacation, or maybe at the botanical gardens. It's easy for many of us, or at least for me, to think of peacocks as walking displays of art found at zoos and really cool parks.

The other side, of course, is that they have families, raise chicks, forage for food, strut around forest floors and by rivers, and fly up to the treetops to evade predators at night.

Though they're very beautiful birds, they can be quite destructive en masse. When they're overpopulated, peacocks can be extremely loud, and they'll eat the flowers out of flower beds, scratch cars with their talons, and cause general mayhem and mischief.

There is more to peacocks than meets the eye--though that certainly is a tantalizing aspect of them, isn't it?

Here are some facts and amazing images to go with them. I am by no means a peacock expert, but through my research I have learned quite a lot.

Where Peacocks Are Found

There Are 3 Main Species of Peafowl

1. Indian:  Pavo cristatus

1. Indian: Pavo cristatus

2. Green:  Pavo muticus

2. Green: Pavo muticus

3. Congo:  Afropavo congensis

3. Congo: Afropavo congensis

The Basics

Peacocks (males) and peahens (females) are actually technically peafowls. Peafowls are of the genus Pavo in the pheasant family of birds, Phasianidae. Peahens are more plain, which is probably why we know these birds as peacocks and not peahens. Peacocks are basically very fancy male pheasants that have evolved to attract the females' attention with their enormous and beautifully colored tail feathers. Scientific studies have shown that, when given the choice, a peahen will choose as her mate the peacock who has the most "eyes" in his tail feathers.


There are 3 main species of peafowl:

  • Indian peafowl (Pavo cristatus): found in India, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan
  • Green peafowl (Pavo muticus): found in Southeast Asia (Burma to Java)
  • Congo peafowl (Afropavo congensis): found in Central Africa


Blue peacocks are the most commonly seen in parks and zoos, and are of the Indian variety. Green peacocks are less well known, and Congo peacocks less still. While the Green peacocks look similar to the blue ones we all know and love, the Congo peacocks look much more like normal pheasants.

Though for the most part these distinctions are generally enough, there are actually over 50 different gradations based on color and pattern mutations. Some of the variations are small, and some of the variations are large.

For example, the "pied" peacock varieties have a more blotchy appearance, displaying large areas of white intermixed with normal coloring.

There is an amazing array of color combinations that most people don't know about. If you're interested, there is a comprehensive peacock varieties database here that includes information and photos. I was amazed to find purple peacocks! But there are many types, and I found all of them beautiful.

Video: Peacock Dance Display

The Distinct Call of the Peacock

If you've ever heard a peacock's call in person, you might not easily forget it. I clearly remember walking through a subtropical botanical gardens and in the distance hearing a lone peacock calling.

Peacocks have a very distinct call.

Peacocks have a very distinct call.

At first I thought it sounded kind of like a baby crying. Later I realized it was a peacock, and ever since that moment I've been almost transfixed by its haunting call.

Though I generally think of one call in particular when I think of peacocks, they actually have a range of up to 11 distinct calls. Their voices carry long distances, and to me at least, this often leaves me with an almost ethereal feeling as the call echoes across space.

To some it's considered raucous and jarring, but to me the call of the peacock will always be linked with beautifully lush landscapes and an almost primitive attraction to the habitats they frequent. It's not just the call itself, but the embodiment of the entire scene: the white clouds, deep blue sky, twittering birds, babbling brooks, exotic flowers, and lush green plants. Through it all you hear the beautiful peacock--a summation of all that's beautiful and exotic in this world.

Peahens and Baby Peachicks

The poor peahen is often overlooked because she is so plain compared to her mate.

However, she plays a huge role and can be thanked for the beautiful displays we see in the male peacock. She selects the most intricately colored and designed males and perpetuates these designs through her offspring.

In India, the peacock mating season coincides with the monsoon season (April-July.) Since the peacock calls loudly during the mating season, this mewing or crying sound has translated literally to mean "there will be rain."

After mating (the male's cloaca transmits sperm to the female's cloaca), the peahen will lay an egg each day until she fills her nest with 3-7 eggs.

Baby peafowls are called peachicks.

Baby peafowls are called peachicks.

She'll also lay unfertilized "decoy" eggs that she'll place away from the nest to confuse predators. The eggs hatch in about 28 days. The hatched peafowls resemble young turkeys, with yellow and brown markings.

They're born fully feathered, and are often ready to fly within a week, and can forage within 3 days of hatching. The mother will usher them into the trees for protection, where she will protect them from weather by covering them with her wings.

The young peacocks' colorful tail feathers won't fill in until they're about 3 years old. From then on, the tail feathers molt (fall off and are replaced) once each summer.

Pavo cristatus mother with chicks.

Pavo cristatus mother with chicks.

Leucistic White Peacock

This is by far the most popular, and perhaps the most beautiful, of all the colored mutations. This peacock has the same enormous tail feathers as its relatives, but without an ounce of color: the whole bird is pure white.

I admit that before doing research I'd thought these were albinos, like most people do. In fact, they have something called leucism. Leucism is when the cells lack the ability to make any pigment whatsoever. In contrast, albinism is when an animal can't produce melanin.

These birds, and in fact many of the 55+ peacock mutations, are maintained through selective breeding. Much like wolves were bred over time to resemble everything from a dachshund to a saint bernard, peacocks have been bred over time to display many different colors and patterns.

I admit the leucistic peacock is one of my favorites. I love black and white photography because there is such a crispness of lines and lack of anything to sully the outline. There's something fantastic and pure about the white peacock. So fantastic, in fact, that I need to include a large image for you.

Leucistic (white) peacock.

Leucistic (white) peacock.

Leucistic peacock display.

Leucistic peacock display.

Interesting Facts About the Peafowl

  • The male peacock has 20 large tail feathers which he uses to attract female peahens
  • Peafowls can live 15-20 years in the wild, and up to 35 years in captivity
  • They eat a variety of plants and insects, and love to catch and eat snakes, including poisonous ones
  • The Indian peacock is the national bird of India
  • The peacock's tail feathers make up 60% of his total length
  • The peacock is one of the largest flying birds
  • Peafowls can become a nuisance when they eat planted flowers and plants
  • A group of peacocks is known as a "party"
  • Peafowls are highly sociable and require companionship
  • Peafowls are forest birds that roost on the ground in the day but nest in trees at night
  • The name for a group of peahens is a "harem"
  • A peacock's total length can reach 8 feet; 3 feet for the body and 5 feet for the tail feathers (train)
  • Predators include leopards and tigers
Indian peacock in flight.

Indian peacock in flight.

Peacocks can fly and nest in trees.

Peacocks can fly and nest in trees.

The peacock is one of the largest flying birds.

The peacock is one of the largest flying birds.

More Information

© 2012 Kate P

Comments

Greensleeves Hubs from Essex, UK on April 03, 2016:

Impressively laid out hub Kate, with impressive photos - as befits an impressive group of birds. My father always used to say - and I agree - that the archetypal peacock cry is the most 'jungle-like' call in all of nature.

peachy from Home Sweet Home on September 26, 2015:

we can see peacocks in zoo, nowhere else

Kate P (author) from The North Woods, USA on September 25, 2015:

Thanks for reading, Laura In Denver! I grew up in Boulder and lived in Aurora for about a year when I was a little kid :)

Laura Deibel from Aurora, CO on September 25, 2015:

Nice hub, thanks!

Kate P (author) from The North Woods, USA on August 24, 2015:

Thanks for your wonderful messages.. I appreciate them! I think the peacock/peahen is often loved, but most people don't know much about them. It was great to learn more by writing this article :)

Cynthia B Turner from Georgia on June 19, 2014:

Great info about the peacock with wonderful pics. I have been considering using the peacock feather as part of my logo and started doing the research. Thanks for addition information.

jamey on January 08, 2014:

love those videos

JR Krishna from India on December 01, 2013:

Beautiful pictures.

I have pinned some of them

Thanks for sharing

Imelda on November 14, 2013:

Wonderful page and history on Peacocks as well as beautiful photos and video too!!! When the score card came up in the first 1/3 of this Hub page, it was deceiving leading one to believe that was all, sure would like to repeat the score card with a 10!!!

Thank you for putting together this wonderful post!

Imelda

Holly Kline from South Jersey on May 29, 2013:

Terrific hub! I'm a peacock fan. It's great to see this here. Thanks!

iguidenetwork from Austin, TX on May 28, 2013:

Nice birds... Magnificent show of feathers. The leucistic peacock is the most beautiful. I didn't know that they can also fly, considering its heavy tail. Thanks for sharing! :)

sheila on May 27, 2013:

This is wonderful!Loving it,saw one peahen this morning,how beautiful!

Amanda Littlejohn on April 07, 2013:

Awesome hub! I love peacocks and found this to be the most wonderful resource, packed to the brim with amazing facts and such stunning photographs, it quite took my breath away! If only all the hubs on Hubpages were like this. Wonderful.

Voted up and all. :)

yasinqureshi on February 21, 2013:

awesome

FullOfLoveSites from United States on February 05, 2013:

Wow, the leucistic peacock looks regal, no wonder it's your favorite. It's like a mythical creature, very beautiful. Some look like turkeys (hence "pavo" is the other word for them) but more pretty turkeys, hehehe. Up, beautiful and awesome. :)

Rosana Modugno from USA on December 20, 2012:

Great hub. Just got around to reading it but it's very well written and wanted to let you know. I love Peacocks as well and here in Florida, there are people who actually keep them as pets. I've often heard them. Thumbs up.

Kate P (author) from The North Woods, USA on October 14, 2012:

Thanks for the wonderful comments. Let me know if you discover any other amazing peacock facts!

ignugent17 on August 22, 2012:

Very beautiful pictures and great information too. Thanks for sharing.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on July 19, 2012:

They really are spectacular, aren't they? Great info on them. We considered raising some when we get our farm in three years but then one day we went to a garage sale and the people there had six of them. I have never heard such a racket and the six birds made while we were there. LOL I don't think we'll be getting any!

devjeet on June 01, 2012:

BTW I heard that peacock cries while dancing...

Kate P (author) from The North Woods, USA on May 29, 2012:

When the peacock is trying to attract a mate, he will spread his tail feathers out, begin rapidly vibrating them, and will do a little dance for his intended. It's awesome!

Thanks for all the comments!

devjeet on May 28, 2012:

Wonderful hubs with amazing picture of peacocks...BTW I seen some of them in real life :-)

Claire from Lincolnshire, UK on May 28, 2012:

Beautiful birds, the leucistic peacock is stunning. When I was a child we lived near a park where there were several peacocks living roaming free (there was a small children's zoo there) and I remember my mum having some peacock feather in a vase and being fascinated by all the colours and patterns.

Deb Hirt from Stillwater, OK on May 27, 2012:

Voted awesome and up. This was well done and gave me a lot of good information.

Kate P (author) from The North Woods, USA on May 27, 2012:

Unfortunately it doesn't surprise me that peacocks in their natural habitats are dwindling in numbers. It's happened with just about all native animals everywhere to one degree or another.

However, hundreds of years ago, sailors transported peacocks around the globe, where many still thrive in large numbers.

Thank you all for your beautiful comments!

Dr.Vangeepuram Navaneetham Satakopan from Chennai, India on May 27, 2012:

Wonderful hub with beautiful pictures. In spite of being the national bird of India, the peacock numbers are on the decline because of rapid urbanization.

Ishwaryaa Dhandapani from Chennai, India on May 27, 2012:

An amazing hub about one of the most beautiful birds! The white peacock look as beautiful as its colored relations. This hub increased my knowledge of peacocks and the photos and videos are captivating. Well-done!

Thanks for SHARING. Pressed all the buttons except funny(sorry). Voted up and Socially Shared.

catgypsy from the South on May 26, 2012:

A very well done and fascinating hub! I have always loved peacocks, but like you said, didn't know much about them. I did not know there was an all white peacock. It is so beautiful! Loved this hub...great job!

Sneha Sunny from India on May 26, 2012:

Very well done in selecting the pictures. Beautiful hub. I've seen three wild peacocks dancing at once, trying to impress the females a few years back. Also a white peacock spreading his feathers in a zoo last year. Few years back where we used to live was having a lot of peacocks around. They used to sit on the wall behind our home and used to make sound. There peacock used to roam around. I was a kiddo and I used to chase them! Pretty amazing! It's the national bird of India. :)

Anne from Spain on May 26, 2012:

Really enjoyed this hub. I had no idea there was more than one coloration. I loved the white one too, it looked like and Angel. Voted you up and following. Thanks

moonlake from America on May 25, 2012:

People down the highway from us have peacocks. They are so pretty and good watch dogs I guess. Enjoyed your hub. Lots of good information. Voted Up.

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