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8 Peacock Facts That Will Change How You See the Bird

Peacock facts to rattle off at parties (the group term for peacocks)—and to inspire further appreciation of the beautiful bird.

Written by
Jane Smart

The time has come to pause and ponder the peacock. Known for its rich plumage and fierce jewel tones, the bird is undeniably visually arresting—but there’s more to the peacock (or peahen, or peachick—we’ll get into that shortly) than meets the eye.

Though peafowl (an umbrella term for all genders and ages of the bird) are native to Asia and Africa, their iridescent feathers and general coolness have inspired humans to tote them all over the world, where they can now be found in zoos, conservatories, backyards, and even wandering around neighborhoods.

There are three species of peafowl: blue, green, and Congo. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, the blue peafowl is listed as “least concern” and the green peacock is listed as “endangered.” The Congo peacock is listed as “vulnerable.”

Here, eight peacock facts to rattle off at parties (the group term for peacocks)—and to inspire further appreciation of the beautiful bird. 

8 Peacock Facts That Might Surprise You

1. Peacocks Are Actually Male

The striking birds that you associate with the label peacock are, in fact, male. Their majestic feathers are used to attract peahens, the females of the species, which are smaller and mostly brown and white, though with emerald necks and the same fabulous head crest.

Together, they produce peachicks, or baby peafowl. Peacocks are polygamous, mating with multiple partners (anywhere between two and five) throughout their lives.

It takes about three years for peafowl to develop their tail display, but once it’s fully fashioned, watch out—the peacock is officially on the prowl, and ready to dance, preen, and shake for female attention. 

2. Peacocks Are the National Bird of India

In 1963, the Indian peacock was declared the national bird of its namesake country. The bird holds significance in Hinduism: It is believed that a peacock’s feathers were originally born of the mythological Garuda, and the bird is often associated with Laksmi, the goddess of wealth and good fortune. As such, peacock feathers have long been favored by royalty. 

3. Peacocks Shed Their Feathers

Don't worry, those loose peacock feathers are not harvested through violent means. Peacocks shed their iconic plumage—also referred to as a train—naturally after mating season is over. (Bonus fact: When said train is vibrated to attract a peahen, it’s referred to as “train rattling.”)

4. Peafowl Can Fly

Those long (up to five feet) and abundant feathers (about 200 per train) may seem cumbersome, but they don’t stop peafowl from lifting off. The birds can fly, though they can only travel very short distances

5. They Can Be Found in Africa

A lesser-known species known as the Congo peafowl can be found in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where it enjoys the status of national bird. Congo peafowl aren’t quite as showy as the Indian variety, with shorter feathers and darker hues, but their fancy headwear and shiny finishes maintain their aesthetic standing within the pheasant family. 

6. Their Sounds Can’t Be Fully Experienced by Humans

When male peacocks perform their train rattle, a rustling sound furthers the visual effect. But for the peahens, the movement also creates a vibration—a resonant frequency—in the air that cannot be felt by humans. 

7. They Stay In Groups

Like us on any given Friday night, peafowl don't like to be alone. (As mentioned previously, a group of peafowl is called a party.) But while they are all about each other, they don’t really jive with other birds. 

8. They Have an Impressive Lifespan

Peafowl lives a long time—between 10 and 25 years in the wild and up to 50 years in captivity. So if you happen to befriend a peacock, it could be your BFF for life.