Can Peacocks Fly? How do they do it?

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There’s a good chance you’ve seen a peacock in real life, either at a zoo or on a hobby farm. But how much do you really know about these majestic birds, in particular around their flying abilities? Well, like most birds, peacocks can fly but it’s a bit of a complicated matter.

Can peacocks fly? Yes, peacocks can fly. They can’t fly very far, so you won’t see them in the sky, but they are able to travel short distances. Peacocks roost in trees, so you can often see them at night gliding towards their sleeping areas, and then in the morning as they glide back to the ground. Peacocks will also take flight if there are predators around, such as dogs or raccoons in urban settings.

While peacocks do have very large tails, this doesn’t actually hinder their ability to take flight. Instead, peacocks simply belong to a family of birds that is not meant to fly long distances. Furthermore, their abundant plumage makes it easy and comfortable for them to land.

Is it really true that peacocks can fly?

Peacocks are large birds and are not often seen in flight. For example, you don’t see them lighting up the skies as they migrate south.

However, peacocks can indeed fly. The caveat is that while they can fly, they can’t do it for very long. Therefore, peacocks don’t move around a lot as they are essentially tethered to their area due to their physical limitations.

Peacocks also can’t fly very high so they aren’t able to hunt from above or catch wind streams to glide further. They will rarely fly higher than tree branches where they make their nests.

How do peacocks fly?

While some birds can simply flap their wings and take to the skies, peacocks need to go through a bit of a process. It can actually be a bit comical seeing them getting ready to fly.

First, peacocks need to gather a bit of speed and they start by running. Some hopping then happens to add a bit of lift to the process.

Peacocks then flap their wings and are finally able to head to the skies. They can’t fly very far or very high, and are usually content to simply fly to nearby trees where they nest.

Once a peacock is ready to land, it makes use of a large amount of plumage. Peacocks glide to the ground without flapping their wings.

As they land, their voluminous feathers make for a soft, cushioning landing. Then, they put their feet out and land rather gracefully.

How long can peacocks fly?

It’s hard to know exactly how far peacocks are capable of flying because most simply don’t fly very far. As long as they have a safe place to roost, have access to plenty of food around them, and are not intimidated by predators, peacocks are content to stay where they are.

Furthermore, if you have peacocks, you usually construct some sort of enclosure for them, either a simple fence or even an enclosed, tall cage. This further makes it hard to determine just how long they can fly for.

There have been reports of peacocks flying for up to a mile in distance but this is fairly rare. However, just because you haven’t seen your peacock fly far, doesn’t mean it isn’t capable of doing so.

When do peacocks fly?

Peacocks don’t fly to get around. They won’t migrate like other birds and they rarely look for new habitats far away from their homes.

Instead, peacocks fly when faced with dangerous environments. If there is a predator, such as jungle cats and mongooses in the wild, or stray dogs in an urban setting, they will fly up to the nearest tree to escape imminent danger.

Another time that peacocks fly is at night. Peacocks roost in trees, where it is safe, and in order to get to their nests in trees, they need to fly.

Their flight ability is the perfect distance to fly up to a tree branch, glide to other trees, and then fly back to the ground in the morning.

Why don’t peacocks fly much?

Let’s get a little technical. While peacocks are indeed birds, and birds (apart from penguins) fly, not all birds are created equally.

Peacocks, and their female equivalent, peahens, are part of the Phasianidae family of birds. This family includes chickens and turkeys, which you’ve probably observed, don’t fly much, either.

Instead, this group of birds prefers to stay on the ground where they can happily forage for food. They walk to their destinations, which are in close proximity, and only take flight when they feel they are in danger.

All this means is that peacocks are doing exactly what they are meant to. They are not meant to fly long distances, which is why you don’t see them engaging in this behavior.  

Peacock tail when flying

Peacocks have long tails that are around 5 feet long while in contrast peahens only have tails that are 2 to 6 inches long. Neither peacocks nor peahens are able to fly very far.

It was assumed that because of the peacock’s long tail, this was the reason it couldn’t really fly. But when you compare its female counterpart, you can see that neither bird can actually fly far.

The length of a peacock’s tail does affect the drag element while in flight but this is not very significant. And, because the peacock is used to its tail, it quickly makes up for this effect.

Seeing a peacock in flight is pretty special. Its tail is out, although not as spread as it does while walking. Its wings are stretched out, though, and you can see the gorgeous red coloring on the underside that often goes unnoticed.


Peacocks don’t fly very far or very high but they are able to fly. Unless they are frightened by predators or need to get to their nests in trees, peacocks are content to stay on the ground where they can roam and forage for food.

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