Peacock Facts And Information For Kids
Here are some interesting peacock facts and information about our national bird’s physical features, habitat, behaviour and communication. Also read on to understand how to conserve the peacock.
By Dr Shyam Kumar
Have your kids seen a peacock in a zoo or a sanctuary? If so, they would have been surely captivated by its sight.
Peacocks are among the most amazing and attractive creatures on earth. It’s hard not to stop and stare at the stunning beauty of their shimmering fan of feathers. In fact, this captivating charm of the peacock has made it a symbol of divinity, mysticism, power and royalty over centuries.
To educate your child about these beautiful birds and why conserving them and their habitat is so important, read our article on interesting facts about peacocks for kids.
Here are a few interesting facts about the three species of peafowls along with information like their physical characteristics, diet, habitat and life span.
Facts about the peacock family
- The peacock is a pheasant belonging to the family Phasianidae and genus Pavo.
- The male peafowl is commonly called peacock and the female is referred to as a peahen. The baby peafowl is referred to as peachick.
- A group of peacocks is called a muster, pride, bevy, party or an ostentation of peacocks.
Peacock species and types
The three most-recognisable species of peafowl are:
1. The blue or Indian peacock
- The blue or Indian peacock (Pavo cristatus) is native to India and Sri Lanka.
- The male can grow up to 2.25m in length and typically weighs between 4 and 6 kg.
- The peacock has a blue neck and head with greenish patches on the sides. It has a rounded white face with a fan-shaped crest on the head.
- The male has a long train (tail) with fluorescent blue-green or metallic green coloured plumage.
- The peahen is brown in colour with white plumage on the underside, and a brown or green crest.
2. The green or Javanese peacock
- The green or Javanese peacock (Pavo muticus) is found in a region extending from Myanmar (Burma) to Java. It is also known as the dragonbird as it feeds on venomous snakes.
- The male of the species can grow up to 3m long from head to train and weighs up to 5kg.
- The peahen has an average length of 1.1m and weighs up to 1kg. It lacks the long train of feathers and has a plumage that is dull grey to green in colour.
- The face is yellow and triangle-shaped. There is a tufted crest on the head with scaly looking feathers on the neck and mantle.
- The green peacock has an iridescent green and gold plumage with black wings and longer legs than that of the blue peacock.
3. The African peafowl or mbulu
- The African peafowl (Afropavo congensis) or mbulu is native to the Congo Basin. It is also known as Congo peacock and Congo peafowl.
- The male African peafowl measures up to 2.3 feet in length with deep blue and metallic green feathers. The female is smaller in size and measures 2 feet in length. It has a crest of white elongated hair-like feathers on its head.
- The adult African peafowl looks like an immature Asian peafowl and has a shorter train in comparison to the green and blue peafowls.
- Both the sexes have a dull colour scheme with the male being dull bluish in colour and the female an iridescent brownish orange in colour.
General physical features of the peacock
- The peacock is one of the largest flying birds in the world on account of its distinctive ornamental train of colourful feathers which is more than 60% of its total body length.
- The total body length of the male peafowl is approximately between 2.3m and 3m with the train measuring between 1.4m and 1.6m and a wingspan of around 1.5m.
- Despite its large size, the peacock can fly short distances. It takes flight either to roost on the tree branches or to escape from predators, but typically prefers to stay on the ground.
- The plumage of the peacock is the most attractive part of the bird with a metallic blue-green or green colour with iridescence.
- The feather tips on the train have a series of eyespots ringed with green, blue or bronze which are visible when the peacock spreads it in a fan shape during courting.
- The peahen lacks the long train feathers sported by the male. The plumage consists of a mixture of dull grey, green and brown coloured feathers.
- Both the male and female sport a decorative crest on their heads.
- The peacock’s beak is hard, short and conical, and measures an inch long. This shape of the beak makes it easy for the peacock to crack nuts, grains and seeds.
- The peacock has slightly longer legs than the peahen with three toes facing forward and one backwards.
- The legs of the peafowl have a sharp metatarsal spur known as ‘kicking thorns’ to defend against predators and are also used in territorial fights.
- Peacocks are ground-dwelling birds that nest and forage on the ground, but roost on trees. They also settle near water sources like rivers.
- They are usually found in the tropical forests of Asia.
- In India, the peacock can be commonly sighted in rural villages as well as around bustling townships.
- The habitat of the green peafowl includes monsoon forests, open grasslands and teak plantation forests in Java, Indonesia.
- Only the Congo peafowl is endemic to the lowland forests in the Democratic Republic of Congo in Africa.
- The main predators of the Indian peafowl are tigers, leopards, civets and mongooses.
What do peacocks eat?
- Peafowls are generally omnivores. They feed on the ground eating seeds, fruits, grass, flowers, vegetables, insects and small mammals.
- They can be seen feeding in open areas and farmlands preying on ants, flying insects and grubs (their favourite food).
- The peafowl also hunt and feed on venomous snakes.
Behaviour and communication
- Peafowls are social with each other and often gather in groups called a bevy or a pride.
- Peacocks let out a loud nasal call, which sounds like a shriek, to communicate with each other, to warn of danger or to attract the female’s attention. This can be heard more often in the dawn and dusk. Often the call of the peacock is associated with the presence of a lurking predator nearby.
- During the day they forage for food on the ground eating bugs, ants, reptiles or vegetation. At night, peacocks prefer to roost on tree branches.
- Peacocks are quite popular for the spectacular courtship dance they perform. Males put up an attractive display of their large train of brilliantly coloured tail feathers to attract the females.
Baby peacocks (peachicks)
- After the mating process, the peahen lays about three to four eggs which are brown in colour.
- Prior to laying the eggs, the peahen finds a shallow spot which is covered by bushes or tall grass. Then it proceeds to sit on the eggs for 28 days following which they hatch.
- Yellow and brownish coloured peachicks emerge from the hatched eggs.
- Several peahens flock together and help each other look after the peachicks. The male peafowl plays no role in caring for the little ones.
- The peachicks eat a large number of insects as part of their initial diet, as they are high in protein.
Peacocks’ conservation status
- It is believed that peafowls have a lifespan ranging between 15 and 20 years. In captivity they are known to live for up to 45 years.
- While the Indian peafowl population seems to be thriving, the picture is not so rosy for its cousin, the Javan green peafowl.
- The Javan green peafowl (Pavo muticus muticus) is a protected bird species in Indonesia. The main threats are from poaching of eggs, habitat loss and hunting.
- In China and Thailand, there are reports of poisoning by farmers as they are considered a nuisance to crops.
- The Congo peafowls face similar threats to their population. The main reasons for habitat loss are mining, logging and shifting cultivation.
The following peafowl species are classified as endangered or vulnerable in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
- Blue peafowl – Least concern (LC)
- Green peacock – Endangered (EN)
- Congo peafowl – Vulnerable (VU)
Peacock sanctuaries in India
- Bankapura Peacock Sanctuary, Karnataka
- Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary, Karnataka
- Viralimalai Peacock Sanctuary, Tamil Nadu
- Choolanur Peacock Sanctuary, Kerala
Peacock sanctuaries in other parts of the world
- Alas Purwo national park and Baluran national park in Indonesia are distribution sites of the green peafowl.
- In Africa, the Congo peafowl is found in Salonga National Park, the Maiko National Park, the Okapi Wildlife Reserve, and the Kahuzi-Biega National Park.
Peacocks in mythology and culture
- The peacock is a revered bird in the Hindu religion. It is considered as the carrier animal of the Hindu God Karthikeya.
- Lord Krishna is prominently depicted as sporting a peacock feather on his crown.
- The Buddhists use peacock feathers for purification ceremonies. The fully spread out peacock tail signifies openness and acceptance in Buddhism.
- In China, Korea and Japan, the peacock is associated with the Buddhist goddess Kwan Yin, the goddess of mercy and compassion.
- In China, the peacock was a symbol of the Ming dynasty. It represented rank, power, beauty and divinity.
- In Greek mythology, the peacock is associated with Argus (a giant with 100 eyes), the guardian of Hera (the wife of Zeus and the queen of the Greek gods). In order to commemorate her loyal watchman, after his death Hera transferred his eyes to the tail of the peacock so that they would stay there forever.
- In Christianity, the peacock is considered a symbol of purity, and represents immortality and resurrection.
Peacocks in literature
These enchanting birds have found their way into the pages of the following works. Let your child enjoy reading them.
Books on peacocks
- Living with peacocks by David Moyle
- Feathers for peacock by Jacqueline Jules
- The Little Peacock's Gift: A Chinese Folk Tale by Cherry Denman
Interesting facts on peacocks
- Humans have reared peacocks as pets for more than 2,000 years.
- The peacock sheds its feathers every year and grows new ones.
- Peacocks can run at a top speed of 16 kmph.
- The Indian peacock is the national bird of India since 1963.
- The Congo peafowl is the national bird of Congo.
- The Congo peafowl was discovered by an American ornithologist, Dr James Paul Chapin, in 1935.
- The green peafowl, called the 'daung' or u-doung in Burmese, is one of the national animals of Myanmar.
- Peacocks are considered a symbol of royalty and power. The famous ‘peacock throne’ was a dazzling throne set with precious jewels built for the emperor Shah Jahan.
- In the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, peacock dance (mayilattam) is performed during the harvest festival of Thai Pongal by girls dressed up in peacock attire.
- The peacock dance, also known as Merak dance, is a traditional dance form of Indonesia featuring the elegant movement of the peacock.
If you found this article about peacocks to be interesting and informative, why not share it with your family and friends? Also leave us your valuable comments.
About the author:
Written by Dr Shyam Kumar on 7 January 2020
The author holds a degree in Homoeopathy with an MBA in Hospital Management and has worked across multiple disciplines including healthcare and technology. As a nature lover, he attended the world's first underwater CEO's conference to combat marine pollution.
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