Peacocks are among the most colorful birds in the world. Native to India, peacocks are highly adaptable to many climates and so they are popular attractions at many zoos and even public gardens all over the world. Until this day, some people opt to keep a peacock as an outdoor pet on the grounds of their home or farm.
Indian peafowls (more commonly known as peacocks) are known for their beautiful feathers that resemble eyes. Male peacocks are the most well-known imagery to the species since they have bright iridescent blue-green plumage. Most of the time males walk with their long feathers trailing behind them. However when they want to attract a female then they will display their back feathers upright, known as “fanning the tail,” and make dance-like movements which creates quite a display to attract potential mates. Female peacocks are far duller in coloration than the males. They generally have grayish brown plumage with small hints of the beautiful blue-green hues shared by the males. Like males, females can use their plumage to aid their survival. Females can use their feathers as a signal to warn their chicks of nearby dangers or to ward off competition from other females.
Peacocks natural habitat is the forest. They nest on the ground but roost in trees and use loud calls (that sound like a cat’s “meow”) to communicate. They find many sources of food in the wild. They are omnivorous and therefore eat many plants, seeds, insects and even some small amphibians. Although peacocks are generally considered large birds, there is not a great deal of difference between the males and the females with males being only slightly bigger (minus the long tail feather) than their female counterparts. On average peacocks weigh 8-13 pounds and stand between 35 to 50 inches (roughly 3 to 4 feet) tall. Impressively, a male’s tail feather can be up to five feet in length and the birds can still adequately fly despite their excess plumage.
Peacocks are highly regarded in India. In Hinduism (which is the primary religion of India), peacocks are associated with Gods, particularly the God of War and Victory, Kartikeya. Peacocks are also symbolic in other countries like Pakistan and America. For example, the Pakistan Television Corporation has a peacock as its logo as does America’s NBC. The pattern of a peacock’s plumage has also made them extremely popular in design circles and advertising. Merchandise from shoes, to handbags, to Halloween costumes have been inspired by the bright hues and complex patterns possessed by peacocks.
Although peacocks can be testy and do not always mix well with other birds, they are common attractions at zoos at beloved to many children. If they are exposed to people throughout their lives they can become quite friendly and even beg for food in petting zoos or near locations where food is plentiful (for example, the Bronx Zoo’s Crane Café usually has several peacocks nesting in the nearby bushes).
Peacocks are truly beautiful creatures and if you have the chance to see one in person it is an absolute visual treat. For children who are interested in animals—specifically birds—they are incredible creatures to study and it is not difficult to see how they have become so popular and beloved throughout various societies in the world.