Peacocks are large, colorful pheasants (typically blue and green) known for their iridescent tails.
Distinctive Tail Feathers
These tail feathers, or coverts, spread out in a distinctive train that is more than 60 percent of the bird’s total body length and boast colorful "eye" markings of blue, gold, red, and other hues. The large train is used in mating rituals and courtship displays. It can be arched into a magnificent fan that reaches across the bird's back and touches the ground on either side. Females are believed to choose their mates according to the size, color, and quality of these outrageous feather trains.
Males vs. Females
The term "peacock" is commonly used to refer to birds of both sexes. Technically, only males are peacocks. Females are peahens, and together, they are called peafowl.
Suitable males may gather harems of several females, each of which will lay three to five eggs. In fact, wild peafowl often roost in forest trees and gather in groups called parties.
Peacocks are ground-feeders that eat insects, plants, and small creatures. There are two familiar peacock species. The blue peacock lives in India and Sri Lanka, while the green peacock is found in Java and Myanmar (Burma). A more distinct and little-known species, the Congo peacock, inhabits African rain forests.
Peafowl such as the blue peacock have been admired by humans and kept as pets for thousands of years. Selective breeding has created some unusual color combinations, but wild birds are themselves bursting with vibrant hues. They can be testy and do not mix well with other domestic birds.
There are but two naturally occuring peafowl species, the Indian peafowl Pavo cristatus from India, often called Blue peafowl, and the Green peafowl Pavo muticus which lives farther east in Burma, Thailand, Indo China, Malaya and Java however, it is curiously absent from Sumatra and Borneo. The latter peafowl (Pavo muticus) has three subspecies:
* Spicifer - found in Western Burma, a duller, bluer species
* Imperator - found in Eastern Burma, Thailand and Indo China, much brighter with greener shades
* Muticus - found in Java, which is the slightly most brilliant then the Imperator
Peacocks has long been popular outside of their native countries of Southern Asia and Malaysia. The Indian Peafowl is probably the oldest known ornamental bird where people from China were the first people to import and domesticate these beautiful creatures. It was first introduced into the Mesopotamian cultures more than 4,000 years ago. Later, more than three thousand years ago, Phoenicians brought the peacock to Egypt and later they were brought into the Mediterranean area. Historical records also indicate that Solomon kept several peafowl and pheasants species, with the India Blue male being his favorite peacock. Unfortuately, peafowl were also considered a delicacy in these cultures for centuries.
Peafowl were extensively raised by the Romans for both the table as well as for ornamental purposes. Medieval Europe carried on the barberous act of eating peafowl and it was only after the 1600th Century, when turkeys were imported from Mexico, that the peacock was discarded as a table bird for the more fleshy American birds. Fortunately, few of the peacock species are used for food today, except in some of the more remote and less civilized places where they are found in nature.
For the most part the Imperator and the Muticus subspecies of the Green Peafowl are very simulare in appearence with the differences being noticeable only on close examination. These two subspecies as well and the Indian Blue are the most common peafowl found in North America. Today there are many different colors and breeds have been produced by man, including mottled, white, and a black-winged variety. Peafowl, particularly the brightly colored peacock, are one of our favorite captive birds, well suited for parks, zoos, and other domestic situations.
Peafowl species, colors, patterns and varieties
Written by Joshua R Nelson
Josh has a gift for understanding the complex world of peafowl genetics, color and patterns, and avian production
The purpose of this article is to provide the reader with a simplified explanation of the current knowledge of peafowl species, colors, patterns and varieties. This article is aimed at beginner peafowl breeders and enthusiasts in hope that it will give you a better understanding of peafowl.
A complete list of peafowl varieties can be seen on the UPA web page www.peafowl.org
In conclusion, there are two popular species of peafowl bred in captivity, the India Blue (Pavo cristatus) and the Greens (Pavo muticus). There are 15 known colors of peafowl: Blue, Green, White, Purple, Cameo, Charcoal, Opal, Bronze, Peach, Midnight, Jade, Taupe, Sonja’s Violeta, Hazel and Indigo. There are five known body patterns, Barred wing, Black shoulder, Pied, White-eyed, and Silver pied. Considering all these color and pattern combinations there are 185 varieties of peafowl possible.