Is A Peacock A Bird?

May 5, 2023 // 9 minutes read

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Is A Peacock A Bird

Are you wondering what species of animal the peacock belongs to? Are you trying to figure out if it’s a bird or some other species? Continue reading to find out the answer to this question and many other facts about peacocks.

The term peacock is most often used to describe both male and female peafowl. Technically, males are the only true peacocks. Peafowl are birds, and females are better known as peahens. This magnificent bird is actually a member of the pheasant family. It is scientifically named Phasianidae.

Today, I’d like to tell you much more about our beautiful friend, the peacock. Besides sharing common information about description and appearance, I’ll also cover a number of other important topics. They include:

  • Scientific classification of the peacock
  • Descriptive characteristics of the physical appearance of peacocks
  • Peacock types
  • Peacock reproductive habits and preferences
  • Habitat & distribution information
  • Plumage
  • Other interesting facts about peacocks

Are you prepared to learn much more about this magnificent and resplendent bird? Keep reading to find out many interesting facts and descriptions.

Scientific Classification of the Peacock

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Family: Phasianidae
  • Genus: Pavo
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Order: Galliformes
  • Class: Aves

Descriptive Characteristics of the Physical Appearance of Peacocks

The most important feature of the peacock is its beautiful train, otherwise known as tail feathers. The train of a peacock is made up of more than 200 bright and glistening feathers that each have eyespots on them, and they truly look amazing.

The Indian peacock has a breast, neck, and head consisting of colors including iridescent green and blue. The train of the peacock consists of green and bronze colors. And as previously mentioned, each of these peacock feathers has “eyes” that look quite obvious when their tail is fully displayed and wide open like a fan.

Female peafowl, otherwise known as peahens, aren’t nearly as dazzling as their male counterparts. In fact, their colors are very dull in comparison and consist of lighter gray and brown colors. Their upper tail doesn’t extend into a fan, and their neck coloring is iridescent green.

Both sexes of peafowl, including the males and females each have crests at the top of their head. The Green peafowl differs from the Indian peafowl with its crest coloring. The crest plumage is gold and green, and their wings are black with a blue sheen, which is quite attractive, to say the least.

Since peacocks are very large birds, it doesn’t surprise anyone to learn that they can grow as tall as 7 ½ feet in length. On the other hand, females are smaller and only measure 3 feet in length at best. The tail of the male peacock can measure as much as 5 feet long, which is very impressive.

On average, the adult peacock weighs roughly 13 pounds. Female peahens weigh as much as 9 pounds, so they are definitely lighter than their male counterparts. The metatarsal spurs, otherwise known as kicking thorns, are very strong and powerful on all peahens. Their feet consist of three sturdy toes facing forward and one rugged toe facing backward at the bottom of very solid legs. Because peacocks weigh so much, they can typically only fly for short distances.

Peacock Types: 3 Main Peacock Species

Peacock TypeScientific Name
Indian PeafowlPavo cristasus
Green PeafowlPavo muticus
Congo PeafowlAfropavo congensis

As you can see in the table above, there are three specific types of peafowl currently in existence today. They all bear their own distinctive train, markings, and colors.

According to, Although there are now around 225 peafowl varieties that have evolved through selective breeding by species devotees, these three rule the roost.

Indian Peafowl: P. cristasus

The Indian peacock is the one with the most recognizable feathers. Their heads are bright blue, and their crests consist of plumage of the brightest colors. These colorful feathers are there to attract female mates.

Another name for the Indian peacock is the Indian Blue Peafowl. This bird originally comes from the subcontinent of India. They get together in small groups to forage and hardly ever fly unless danger is lurking in their presence. They tend to avoid flying because they are large creatures that cannot keep themselves flying for very long because of their weight and body size.

The conservation status of this bird is classified as Least Concern, meaning it isn’t in danger of becoming extinct.

Green Peafowl: P. muticus

The Green peafowl is a bird whose native habitat is in southeast Asia. Unfortunately, this bird has found itself on the endangered species list since 2009. They are now endangered because their habitats are being destroyed due to deforestation and the agricultural industry. Other varieties of peacock types look different from one another, but male and female green peafowl both look similar and have green and blue colors.

Green peacocks maintain an impressive wingspan between 1.2-1.6 m. Females are usually half the size of their male counterparts, which is normal for many bird species. The green peacock is considered one of the birds with the largest wingspan out of all bird species in the wild.

The conservation status of the Green peafowl is classified as Endangered, meaning it is on the verge of becoming extinct if it isn’t protected.

Congo Peafowl: A. congensis

The Congo peafowl is a bird native to the African Congo and appears to look more like a pheasant as opposed to an Indian peacock. It has green and blue feathers with a bright sheen to them.

The habitat of the Congo peafowl is slowly disappearing. By living in the rainforests of the Congo River basin, their habitat is being destroyed due to deforestation and other agricultural reasons. Congo peafowl mostly eats a diet of insects and fruit.

The conservation status of the Congo peafowl is classified as Vulnerable, meaning it is vulnerable to becoming an endangered species.

Peacock Reproductive Habits and Preferences

Peahens particularly prefer to mate with males that are the most impressive of their species. They want to mate with the peacocks that have the largest number of eyespots going along their tales.

Even more important, when a male has extra-large eyespots, this means that he’s typically healthier, will be a better father, will survive longer than others, and be able to lead young peacocks better, according to research.

Peacock beauty is more than skin deep. In August, they will shed their tail feathers and immediately start growing them once again.

The male peacock spreads its tail feathers wide and performs a shivering motion, better known as a train rattle while attempting to attract a peahen. It will back up toward a receptive female and swing around to show her its beauty. Then it will retreat a number of steps and bow down, which is a typical movement for males.

Next, they will perform a vocalization after the display. The male will make loud crowing noises that are much louder than any rooster will ever make because it’s incredibly intense. This loud vocalization will mesmerize a female until she joins the harem of peahens connected to the male peacock. If you haven’t guessed, peacocks are polygamists and have a handful of peahens in their harem.

The male member of the peafowl species does not take part in raising their young. The peahen shows her children what they are supposed to do in order to survive and thrive in this world. 

Other facts include:

  • Peacocks mature when they reach three years old, while peahens mature at two years old
  • Peahens lay eggs between April-September, and they are brown in color. She usually lays up to a dozen eggs per brood
  • Peahens incubate their eggs for four weeks, then the eggs hatch on the 28th day
  • Baby peacocks, a.k.a. peachicks, weigh 3.6 ounces when they are born, and they have their full feathers at birth. After a few weeks, they can even fly
  • Young peacocks and peahens become independent of their mothers after ten weeks, wherein they will leave their side and go on their own
  • Peafowl live up to 40-50 years

Habitat & Distribution Information

Peacocks are considered ground-dwelling birds and like living in forested areas or agricultural fields. You can typically find peacocks in Bushlands and rainforest areas too. Generally speaking, they build their nests on the ground, with the occasional exception of peacocks roosting in trees.

Birds typically build their nests within trees for cover in safety. They look for refuge by sleeping high in the branches of trees in an effort to remain hidden from predators. Peafowl will move out of their roosts during the day and scavenge for food.

Do Feathers Define A Bird?

Did you know that feathers came before birds??? In fact, other creatures had feathers long before birds did!

Click the button below to explore the evolution of feathers.


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Most people can easily recognize peacocks and another peafowl because of their vibrant plumage made up of green and metallic blue tones across their train and tail feathers. Their feathers have eyespots going along the edge in an elaborate fashion. Many of us recognize peacocks because of their eyespot characteristics.

The Indian peacock has iridescent blue and green plumage, mostly metallic blue and green, but the green peacock has green and bronze body feathers. In both species, females are a little smaller than males in terms of weight and wingspan, but males are significantly longer due to the ‘tail’, also known as a ‘train’.


The colors of peacock plumage make it easier to identify their gender as well. Even more interesting, their feather colors can let people know when they are in competition, trying to protect their young, or looking to ward off danger.

Green peacocks have gold and green clusters on their feathers. Their wings tend to have black and blue coloration, which is also the same for green peahens. Except the peahens typically have less shine and a more coppery tone.

Congo peacocks have much shorter plumage and rarely use their tail feathers during displays of courtship.

Other Interesting Facts about Peacocks

  1. When peacocks are together in a group, they are known as an Ostentation or a Muster
  2. The train of feathers on the male peacock can be as much is 3 feet long
  3. Female peahens are smaller than their male counterparts and do not have a feather train
  4. Peacocks give off a glossy sheen and scare easily by sudden movements and loud noises
  5. Pavo cristasus, the scientific name for the Indian peafowl, means christened turkey
  6. Peacocks have incredibly loud cries that can be heard roughly 1 mile away
  7. Peacocks are revered, beautiful birds all throughout history and are associated with good luck, beauty, and royalty
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