The peacock is the national bird of India and is admired the world over for its bright iridescent colors and the spectacular tail feathers produced by the males. This train is made up of showy covert feathers that are one to four feet long and feature eyespots called ocelli along the edges of the fan. More than 100 covert feathers may be shed from a single bird at the conclusion of the breeding season, leaving the drabber tail feathers underneath.
Peacocks (males) are polygamous, mating with as many peahens (females) as possible. Males gather at a breeding site called a lek to display in competition with each other, while the females “window shop” for the best mates. During courtship, the male raises and spreads his train using the tail feathers for support. The back side of the train is comparatively dull, so the peacock approaches the peahen backwards and swivels around as he gets close, hoping to dazzle her with his brilliant colors.
If mating does occur, a peahen will lay three to five eggs in a nest on the ground under some brush. Her darker, duller coloration provides better camouflage while incubating eggs. The eggs hatch in about 28 days and the new peachicks follow the peahen soon after hatching. They are able to fly in about a week, though mature peacocks with long trains can only fly for short distances to reach roosting spots. Males develop their trains during their second year, but they do not develop ocelli until the third.
The blue peafowl is listed as Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), though it may now be extinct in some of its former range, like Bangladesh. Peafowl exist in large numbers as domesticated birds and have been introduced to many parts of the world.
The common peacock is native to tropical and dry, open forests of India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bhutan, and Bangladesh. These birds have also been introduced into Australia, New Zealand, the Bahamas, and the United States.
These omnivorous birds eat insects, worms, lizards, frogs, snakes, flowers, grain, grass, and bamboo shoots.
Adult peafowl can measure about 78 inches from head to tail and can weigh up to 13 pounds. Peafowl live between 10 and 25 years, both in the wild and in human care.