Have you ever wondered why the male peacock has large feathers with beautiful patterns? Or why the female one has a much smaller body and duller coloration? Do you want to know what else is different between them? Well, look no further.
In this article, we’ll be tackling the similarities and differences between the male vs. the female peacock.
Before we begin, it’s useful to know that peacock is more of a colloquial term to refer to this bird. The more specific word to use for both males and females is peafowl. Peacock is what you would call a male peafowl, while a female peafowl is called a peahen.
There are three known peacock species, and they’re classified as part of the pheasant family, Phasianidae. Other members of the pheasant family include the jungle fowl, partridge, pheasant, and quail. Peacocks are most closely related to pheasants.
Two peacock species originate from Asia; the blue Indian peacock from India or Sri Lanka and the green Javanese peacock from Myanmar or the Java peninsula. The Congo peacock was discovered in 1936 within the Democratic Republic of Congo in Africa. Most people are familiar with the first two species because of their striking appearance.
Due to the marked differences in their tails, male and female peacocks differ in size. In all three species of this bird, the male is generally larger than the female. Males can weigh around 9-13 lbs (4.1-5.9 kg), while females can weigh 6-9 lbs (2.7-4.1 kg). When talking of length, male peacocks also outsize females.
They can grow to about 7.5 ft (2.3 m) long, tail included. On the other hand, female peacocks only reach a length of around 6.5 ft (1.8 m).
Expert Tip: In height, male and female peacocks commonly stand at 3-4 ft tall (0.9-1.2 m).
Perhaps the biggest and most noticeable difference between male and female peacocks is their varying colors. Vibrant feathers of blur or green cover male peacocks, whereas females have feathers of muted brown or gray. The male’s blue-green feathers will cover their whole bodies, including the belly.
In female peacocks, the brownish plumage ends just before reaching the belly. Creamy white feathers take their place instead. Although there are cases of male peacocks exhibiting leucism and albinism, these instances are rare. It’s even rarer to find a peacock with true albinism.
Leucism and albinism are genetic variants that will cause peacocks and other animals to appear white throughout. Many scientists believe that a male peacock’s feathers are more vibrant and have colorful patterns because these help them find a mate.
The females have duller feathers because it helps them camouflage to their surroundings while incubating eggs. The brown-gray shade of their plumage makes them blend in with the ground or the foliage of their territories.
The primary features of male and female peacocks are mostly the same. Both have long necks that they can crane to see over grass or shrubbery. They also have markings around their eyes that differ in color from the rest of their body. In male peacocks, however, both markings above and below their eyes are usually white.
In female peacocks, only the markings above the eyes are white. The ones below are, in most cases, a lighter shade of the feathers on their bodies. Another notable difference between male and female peacocks is their tails. A male peacock’s tail feathers can grow to as long as 75 in (190.5 cm).
The “eyes” on each one help catch the attention of any female they come across, especially if they’re on full display. These iridescent eyespots, also known as ocelli, are often ringed with blue and bronze.
During courtship, male peacocks will raise their tails and vibrate their feathers to make them shimmer and rustle. This will grab the nearby female peacock’s attention.
Another supposed function of their tails is for protection. When raised and rustling, the tail feathers will make male peacocks appear bigger than they really are. Their tail’s busy color patterns are said to warn predators or stop them from approaching. Dogs, raccoons, tigers, and wild cats are some of the peacock’s most common predators.
In contrast, a female peacock has tail feathers that grow 2-6 in long (5.1-15.2 cm). They don’t have the striking eye patterns that their male counterparts do. They can’t raise or display these feathers.
It’s also good to know that the male’s feathers are mostly light and fine-textured, with a metallic sheen that makes them look almost like shiny fur. They cannot ruffle the feathers at their neck when they feel threatened. Females have rounder feathers that resemble scales.
They can ruffle these feathers when they’re acting aggressive or think they’re in danger. The males’ feathers molt sometime around three years old, and their feathers grow back quickly.
Except for the Congo peacock, these feathers develop into the long, attractive train that makes them recognizable. Only fourteen black feathers make up the Congo peacock’s tail, but they do have deep blue bodies tinged with metallic green and violet.
Male and female peacocks have feather crests.
These crests protrude like long, thin ornaments from their heads and are capped with clusters of feathers at the end. Again, it’s the male peacocks who have much longer, brighter crests in shades of blue. The female’s crests are topped with brown or tan feather clusters.
Expert Tip: The size of their wings varies depending on their species. For example, Indian peacocks can have a wingspan of 3-10 ft (7.6-25.4 cm). Peacocks can fly at top speeds of 10 mph (16.1 kph). However, they are not migratory.
Both male and female peacocks can live from around 12-20 years of age, although some individuals can live longer in captivity. In that time, they will display different behaviors depending on their physiology.
For example, male peacocks are often solitary except during the breeding season in the summer. At that time, they will try to attract 2-5 females and mate with them.
Female peacocks are more social, especially when it comes to raising their young. They’ll build depressed, grass-padded nests in the ground and brood their eggs there. They’re also responsible for keeping an eye out on their young called peachicks. However, they’re considered more territorial than males.
When needed, they’ll defend their nesting site from predators and competing peahens alike. Only female peacocks can ley eggs. They can produce four to eight whitish eggs at one time which they then incubate for 28-30 days or more.
Their nests are often found hidden in the cover of bushes, shrubs, or other vegetation as a precaution against predators. Peacocks can also make loud screeching sounds to drive predators away. Regardless of being male or female, all chicks will have feathers when they emerge from their eggs.
And they’re capable of walking around after only a few moments or days. They can also fly short distances after a few weeks. Because of their solitary and territorial behaviors, their caretakers are advised not to keep them close to other pets or around younger family members.
Green peacocks are particularly aggressive and don’t do well with other fowl. Some people tend to keep them in secure pens on their farms or in open areas, where they can separate themselves from other birds.
In urban areas, peacocks can be prone to attacking cars or reflective surfaces. They will often mistake their reflections for another bird that’s trying to claim their territory. Some peacocks might also chase people for food, but cases of these attacks are uncommon.
In the wild, peacocks live in open lowland forests. The social ones flock together by day and roost high in the trees by night. They flock in groups called musters, although pride or ostentation can also be used. They’re most active in the morning and at dusk, often searching for food or herding their chicks.
Peacocks are omnivores, often preferring to eat grains, seeds, and insects. Grass, roots, and flowers are also on their plant menu. Some peacocks have been observed to eat other animals such as worms, frogs, and small snakes.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), currently considers the blue or Indian peafowl of least concern in terms of conservation. More than 100,000 of these peacocks are estimated to exist around the world. The IUCN classifies the Congo peafowl as vulnerable to extinction and the green or Javanese peacock as endangered.
Efforts such as protection acts, sanctuaries, research, and breeding programs have been made towards preserving and increasing their numbers. However, more intervention is needed to ensure that these methods succeed.
In summary, male peacocks have bigger bodies, more colorful feathers, and a more solitary disposition. Females are smaller, less vibrant, and relatively social. Male and female peacocks sport the same habitat, diet, and lifespan. They also originate from the same areas, namely regions of Asia and Africa.
More and improved intervention is needed to make sure that these beautiful birds don’t go extinct.
Hopefully, this list of features and fun facts has helped you understand what makes the male peacock different from the female and what makes them similar. If you want to know more about these birds or have any questions that weren’t addressed by this article, you’re welcome to leave a comment below.