Just how much do you know about the majestic peacock? They have quite a long lifespan and while they are always at risk of encroaching human populations, steps are being made to better protect this unique bird.
How long do peacocks live? Peacocks live a long time, especially in captivity. You can expect peacocks to live up to 20 years if they are properly cared for and have a balanced, healthy diet. In the wild, they may live up to 15 years but it is hard to tell exactly how long the average lifespan is. In captivity, peacocks live a much safer life. They have access to a constant supply of healthy food and they do not have to worry about predators such as jungle cats. In the wild, food scarcity is a problem as the human population can narrow their habitat, making it hard to forage for food. The Indian peafowl is now a protected species and their numbers are thriving. However, Green peafowl and Congo peafowl are listed as threatened species, so more needs to be done to protect their habitats.
Peacocks live a lot longer in captivity, sometimes up to 20 years. Their longer lifespan in captivity is attributed to the lack of predators and their consistent diet.
More farmers are opting to include peacocks and peahens in their farms as they are quite loyal birds and are good at alerting other animals to potential predators.
However, because they live to be so old, they can be quite the commitment to take on. You want to be sure you have room for your peacock for up to 20 years and have an alternative plan in mind if you need to get rid of it along the way.
In the Wild
It is hard to tell just how long peacocks live in the wild. On average, it seems to be about 15 years but can vary greatly.
Peacocks have a lot of predators to be wary of, including mongooses and jungle cats. They do their best to live in groups and roost in trees, but because they can’t fly far or fast, they are susceptible to larger animals.
In India, the lifespan of Indian peafowl is rising as they were made a national bird in 1963. It is now illegal to hunt or eat peacocks and so they are living longer.
Are peacocks extinct?
There are three types of peafowl species. The most common, Indian peafowl, is not extinct. This is mainly because they are a protected species in India and thus cannot be eaten or hunted.
Green peafowl, which live in Southeast Asia, is considered a threatened species. They are endangered because of the growing human population around them. There are now steps being made to better protect this species and it is illegal to hunt and eat Green peafowl.
Congo peafowl is native to the Congo Basin in Africa. They are considered a threatened species and are quite vulnerable.
While it is hard to determine the population, the latest counts for Congo peafowl are only between 2,500 and 9,000 animals. There are now more breeding programs around the world to better protect the species.
How can you tell the age of a peacock?
While you can’t tell how old a peacock is once it becomes an adult, you can tell the age earlier.
When born, peacocks start out as little yellow chicks. You can not tell if they are male or female until at least three months old.
At one year old, you can tell the sex but both male and female peafowl will still mostly be brown in color. They will not form their eyespots or iridescent coloring yet.
By two years old, male peacocks will have their distinct coloring. They are fully grown, weighing up to 15 pounds.
As for female peahens, their feathers will still be brown but they will be a bit larger. Peahens will also grow iridescent feathers on their necks and at two years old will weigh about 10 pounds.
At three years old, both peahens and peacocks are fully-grown adults. They will have all their tail feathers and will be their full size.
Once peacocks reach three years of age, it is very difficult to tell how old they are. Those that are in captivity will need to be tagged. Farmers should record their age recorded so they know how old they are.
Do peacocks mate for life?
Peacocks are an interesting species in that they are polygynous. This means that one male will have multiple partners, but he will remain loyal to those partners.
While peacocks do not mate for life, they may repeatedly couple although this can change from one mating season to the next.
The mating season of peafowl starts in early spring and ends in late summer. During this period, male peacocks will do all they can to attract the attention of female peahens. It is the peahens who ultimately get to choose who their partner will be.
To properly show off, peacocks will strut around and open up their tail feathers to show off their brilliant eyespots. They will also rattle their feathers and emit piercing shrieks.
Once a peahen chooses a peacock, that peacock will position himself atop the peahen and she will then start to lay eggs. Over a 12-day period, a peahen will lay between four and eight eggs, and then incubate them for 28 days.
This process happens two to three times a year. The following year a peahen may select the same peacock for the process or look for a better genetic specimen.
In the wild, peacocks live in groups called parties. They are smaller groups and once a group becomes too large, some animals will break off so that there are enough food resources for everyone.
While most species of peafowl have this same cycle, Green peafowl sometimes forms monogamous partners, especially in captivity.
Peacocks can live for an amazing 20 years in captivity, so if you are thinking about raising peacocks, be prepared for the long lifespan. While their lifespan is shorter in the wild, more is being done to protect this threatened species.