blue peafowl

Scientific Name-Pavo cristatus

Conservation Status– Least Concern

Appearance

Peafowl are medium sized birds with spectacular tail feathers. From the head to the end of the tail they generally measure 195-225cm for males. Females usually reach 95cms in length.

Males normally weigh 4-6kgs. The female peafowl reaches about 3-4kg.

The female peafowl (known as the peahen) is coloured brown. At the base of the neck they have some metallic green feathers and the underside is white. The crown of feathers on their head is brown or green. This dull colouration allows for camouflage when they are sitting on eggs.

The male peafowl (known as the peacock) has a blue neck and head. The sides of the head have green patches. Above and below the eye is a white stripe which is just bare skin. On the back the feathers are green with black and copper markings. The actual tail is dark brown. The train made of elongated tail coverts. These are coloured green and end with an eye spot. Their majority of the underside is green but it becomes black at the end of the tail.

Lifespan                                                                                  

It is not known exactly how long peafowls live for in the wild. Many estimates place it at between 15 and 20 years. In captivity they can live for up to 20 years.

Diet

The peafowl is an omnivore. They feed on the ground eating insects, fruits, vegetables, seeds, small mammals and vegetables. In the Gir forest the majority of their diet is made up of berries from the Zizyphus. In cultivated areas they will feed on the crops. Farmers tolerate them due to the many insects which they eat.

Habitat

Blue peafowls are found in India and Sri Lanka. They make their homes in open and tropical forests.

In many countries across the world peafowls have been introduced. In some areas they have established feral colonies.

Reproduction

The breeding season for the blue peafowl is dependent on when the rains come. A group of males who are generally closely related will form a lek site where they each maintain a small territory. Females then visit the males at these sites. The males do not generally attempt to guard the females.

The males display for the females by lifting their tail feathers up and shaking them.

Once they have mated the female creates a nest. This is a shallow depression scrape in the ground. They line this with leaves, sticks and other material. Occasionally the nest is built on a building or they use disused white-rumped vulture nests.

In the nest 4-8 eggs are laid and after 28 days the chicks hatch. The chicks follow the mother around and she looks after them. Sometimes she will carry them around on her back. The chicks will generally wean at about 1 year old. By 2 to 3 years of age the chicks are sexually mature.

Behaviour

blue peafowlIn their natural range peafowl will moult their tail feathers during August. These then develop again in February.

When foraging peafowl form small groups usually made up of a peacock and 3-5 peahens. Once the breeding season is complete the males generally leave the group while the young are being raised. At dusk they will have a dust-bath. They walk to a favourite waterhole in the night and have a drink. At night they roost in tall trees.

Peafowl are hunted by dholes, leopards and tigers. They will ambush the peafowl before they can fly away. Peafowl will fly away if they see any predators approaching them. Some large birds of prey will also hunt the peafowl. Chicks are more prone to predation than adults.

Quick facts

The peacock has been kept by humans for thousands of years. In the past they were a sign of wealth

The peacock is the national bird of India

Pied and white versions of the peafowl can be found in the wild as well as in zoos where they are bred for these traits

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