Peafowl is an ornamental bird species belonging to the Phasianidae family. There are two species of peafowl, namely Asiatic and Congo species. The Congo species is the only member of the pheasant family that originates outside Asia. There are also two species of Asiatic peafowl spread across Asia - the blue peafowl and the green peafowl. A male peafowl is known as peacock while a female one is referred to as peahen. The immature offspring is sometimes referred to as peachick. The male peafowl is known for its piercing call and extravagant plumage. The iridescent coloration and large tail of the male peacock have been the subject of scientific research over the years with Charles Darwin suggesting that it is meant to attract the female.
4. Physical Description
The male Indian peafowl has remarkable iridescent green and blue plumage. The train or tail consists of elongated upper tail coverts. The feathers have eyespots which can be the best seen when the peacock fans its tail. Both the peacock and the peahen have a crest at the top of the head. The female Indiana peafowl has green and gold plumage with dark wings. The Congo peacock does not display its covert feathers but uses the tail feathers. The tail feathers of the Congo peafowl are much shorter than the Indian peafowl. Peachick vary between yellow and tawny in appearance. Albino peafowl may exist but are very rare.
Peafowls are mainly omnivores and eat any kind of green shoot including flower petals, vegetables, grass, seed head, insects, small reptiles, and amphibians. They are fond of petunias and other pot plants. The wild peafowl looks for food by scratching around the leafy litters either in the morning or just before dusk. The birds are not choosy and will eat almost anything that can fit in their beaks. The Indian peafowl can also hunt and eat small snakes. Domesticated peafowl may eat wheat products such as bread and also cracked oats, corns, cooked rice, as well as cat food.
2. Habitat and Range
The Indian peafowl is found in a wide range of habitat across the Indian subcontinent and the drier lowland areas of Sri Lanka. It is found below an altitude of 1.1 miles in South Asia. It is found in dry deciduous forest but can also be found around cultivated areas. Green peafowl are found in Southeast Asia and can also be found in the same habitat as Indian peafowl. Congo Peafowl is the only species found outside Asia. It is found in Salonga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Peafowl has also become feral in the upper North Island and Upper Wanganui River catchment.
Peafowl are most well known for the male’s display of their feathers. The feathers, although thought of as tail, actually grow from their backs. They forage on the ground in groups known as musters consisting of 3 to five birds. During breeding season, peafowl produces loud calls, especially when alarmed. They also roost in groups during the night on tall trees or rocks. During the breeding season, the male arrives quickly at the breeding site and seldom leave until mid-day. It attracts the female counterpart by displaying its feathers. Outside of the breeding season, both sexes flock together and only separate during roosting.