Peacocks are considered to be one of the most exotic birds. Both males and females can do a beautiful display of their tail feathers.
It comes as no news that males are more attractive. and their feathers are more conspicuous than females.
However, there are other features that distinguish them.
So let’s look at some of their physical as well as behavioral traits that set them apart.
Physical Differences in Male and Female Peacock
In terms of physical appearances, there are a lot of traits that distinguish male and female peacocks. Such traits include:
- The color and size of their tails
- Their oveall size
- Eye markings
- The shape and size of their chests and necks
- Their legs and spurs
Let’s discuss each of these physically distinguishable characteristics in detail.
Also, while a lot of people call them female peacocks, the correct term for them is Peahen. Both male and female peacocks can also be called Peafowl.
The Color and Size of Tail Feathers
What makes male peacocks more attractive than females is their tail feathers.
However, what people believe to be the tail feathers of males are not actually their true feathers.
Those beautiful long feathers on their tails are tectrix feathers or, to simply put, covert feathers.
As the name implies, these covert feathers cover the true tail feathers of the male peacock. They simply aid streamline the airflow over true tail feathers.
Hence, the true tail feathers of a male peacock are not much different than female tail feathers.
Female tail feathers are visibly much smaller in length than male tail feathers. Male feathers can measure up to two meters in length.
Female tail feathers are also not as bright as those of males.
The color of female tail feathers ranges from brown to gray, while male tail feathers are multicolored and iridescent.
Male tail feathers reflect a beautiful blend of colors. Being bright, shiny, and iridescent, they seem to shift colors under different intensities of lights.
It is the long length of male tail feathers that makes them look much taller than females.
More than half of the total male peacock’s height comes from the length of its covert tail feathers. This added length of their tails also makes male Indian peacocks amongst the largest flying birds.
Male peacocks can fan out their tail feathers in an exotic display during courtship.
We can also refer to their tail feathers as a train because when they are not erect, they fall behind them and follow them as a trail.
Female tail feathers may not look as attractive as male tail feathers, but they help them camouflage.
True male feathers could also serve the same role if they were not covered by many colorful long covert feathers.
Display of Tail Feathers
As we all know, peacocks fan out their tail feathers when they duel for courtship. It is, however, not uncommon for females to fan out their tails either.
Female peacocks fan them out when they are in danger or sense their predator.
They may also display them when they are excited or when they are vying for a male mate.
Peahens are also known to erect their tail feathers when the lives of their chicks are under any threat.
They do it in order to scare away any animal posing threat to their chicks.
The Difference in Height and Weight
Some people may even think of male and female peacocks as completely different species based on their size and height differences.
A small adult female peacock can weigh around six to nine pounds, while a male peacock on average weighs between nine to twelve pounds.
This is a big difference, making male peacocks weigh almost twice as heavy as female peacocks at times.
Male peacocks are also much taller than female peacocks.
As discussed earlier, this is because female peacocks lack long covert tail feathers. These covert feathers add to more than half of the total height of male peacocks.
Again, this height difference also makes male peacocks appear almost twice as tall as female peacocks.
Male peacocks can measure up to 7 feet, while female peacocks can only measure 4 feet in length.
Size and Shape of the Crest and Neck
Just like the differences in tail feathers, the crest of males is more attractive. Similar to their tails, peahens’ crest’s feathers are also dull brownish.
The crest in males consists of small but delicately curled-up feathers. It is also shaped in a proper fan-like manner as opposed to that of peahens.
The crest in males comprises bright blue feathers, and there are also long plain shafts spread out in a regular pattern.
The feathers around the neck of females are greenish-blue in color, which they can flare-up. It also gives a beautiful metallic shade which makes them look more like scales than feathers.
Male neck feathers are bright blue. They look like fur only and not scales.
Feathers on the Back and Wings
It is mentioned earlier that female neck feathers look like scales and not males. However, it is the opposite when it comes to feathers on their back.
The feathers at the back of males look like scales. These back feathers are also seen to be in continuity with the beautiful covert tail feathers in males.
In females, these back feathers do not look like scales, unlike their neck feathers. These feathers are brown in color, just like their tail feathers.
The wing feathers in females are in single solid color, brown, just like most of the feathers on their bodies.
Peacocks can have the same wing feathers as females in a single shade of brown or stripes on the wings.
Size of Legs and Spurs
Females have slightly smaller and shorter legs than males. Spurs are seen on both the adult male and adult female legs.
These spurs are not present at birth, so they develop later on in their lives.
Males develop these spurs a little earlier than females. The spurs on male legs are sharper as compared to females.
These sharp spurs help males during fights over territory with other peacocks.
We have discussed all the differences in their physical appearances. Now let’s find out how males are different from females.
It comes as no surprise that males fan out their long beautiful tail feathers to attract females.
They make loud, energetic sounds of dragging more attention towards themselves. Each male tail feather has a beautiful eyespot called the ocellus.
They almost wear it like an ornament. The more a male has it, the better the chances of attracting females. This is, however, not always true.
The long length of these covert tail feathers also helps males be easily spotted where tall vegetation can conceal their bodies.
Females are much less involved in the overall mating process. They do fan out their tails in excitement but are not required to put in as much effort as males.
Male peacocks put in a lot of effort to attract females, but soon after mating, all the parental duties are transferred to females.
Females are solely responsible for incubating the eggs and then tending to their young ones.
In fact, males do not even take part in the nest-building process or protect the baby peacocks.
Parental duties are solely the peahens’ responsibility.
Different Peacock Species
All the major physical and behavioral differences are common amongst most of the species.
Some additional differences are highlighted ahead.
If you have to identify a male and female baby peacock, it can be tricky as there are barely any major differences between them.
A male baby peacock’s tail starts growing when they are about three to four years old.
A common way of identifying a male baby peacock is through its legs and feathers.
Male baby peacocks are said to have longer legs and brightly colored feathers. They also have leg spurs that are not too common amongst females.
This special peacock species have very few differences amongst its male and female peacocks.
Females have a visibility shorter tail that is dark green. Their crest feathers are also more rounded in comparison to males.
Another distinguishing feature is that males have blue and black lines on their faces while females have brown-colored ones.
Congo Peacock stands out from Green Peacock and Baby Peacock because it has a short tail and its colors are less attractive.
The male has blackish blue and green feathers, and the female has metallic green color feathers.
The Congo Peacocks, both male and female, have bare red skin on their necks.
The Female crest is short and of brown feathers, and the male crest is of white feathers.
We hope you enjoyed reading all these interesting and distinguishable facts about female and male peacocks.
Next time you see a peacock, you would have no trouble identifying its gender.
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