The common peafowl, also called peacock, is famous for the huge tail feathers weared by the males. The species naturally occurs in forest areas in Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka, but they are also introduced in many botanical gardens and park areas around the world.
Males weigh 4–6 kg, females 2.7 to 4 kg. Only males have the long ornamental tail feathers.
In the wild, birds live in small groups, often consisting of one male and three to five females. Despite its long tail, the peacock can fly well and usually spend nights sleeping up in the trees. The high mewing cries of peacocks serves as an effective warning signal if there are dangers in the vicinity – also for many other animals in the forest.
The peacock eats seeds, berries, insects and sometimes even snakes.
The peacock may be some 15 years in the wild, 20 years in zoos.
The peacock is protected in its natural range and it is forbidden to export peacock feathers from India. In addition, the peacock is common as a display birds all over the world and that is the reason why the species is not threatened.
The male court and impress females by lifting and spreading their tail feathers like a big fan. The female builds her nest among collected leaves on the ground in dense vegetation. She lays four to six eggs and incubates them for four weeks before they hatch. Chicks stay with their mother for eight weeks.
The peacock is said to have been transported to Europe as early as 450 BC and it was wealthy Greeks in Athens that adorned their gardens with the beautiful bird.
The male’s huge tail feathers are the result of extreme sexual selection over many millions of years. The quality and beauty of the tail feather, in other words, tell the female about how well the male is fit to find food and survive dangers, thus being a good potential father for future offspring. Male competition is common in the animal kingdom, but has for the peafowl species reached an extreme variant, resulting in the disproportionately large feather “fan”.