If you’ve ever been to a zoo, there’s a good chance you’ve seen a peacock. With iridescent green and blue plumage, they are hard to miss and are often a fan favorite. But what kind of peacock have you most likely seen and how many other peacocks are there around the world?
Types of peacocks: There are three species of peafowl, including Indian peafowl, Congo peafowl, and Green peafowl. While they live in different areas, namely southeast Asia and the Congo Basin, there are many similarities between the species. They all like to forage and live on an omnivorous diet of leaves, berries, and insects. Peafowl likes to live in warmer climates and need enough land to forage for food and roost in trees to protect themselves from predators. The most common species is the Indian peafowl and it is with these birds that you will see different color combinations. Mainly bred in captivity, breeders experiment with mating selection and have been able to produce different hybrid colors. The next time you see a male peacock or a female peahen, be sure to pay attention to what type it is. Although they will often be Indian peafowl, more and more zoos and animal sanctuaries have breeding programs to boost the dwindling numbers of Green peafowl and Congo peafowl.
3 Types of Peacock Breeds
Also known as Indonesian peafowl, these animals are native to Southeast Asia and prefer tropical forests as their home. Unfortunately, Green peafowl is on the endangered list of animals.
This is due to the loss of habitat as human populations continue to encroach on wild areas. Without a large enough habitat, Green peafowl is unable to forage for enough food and have to compete with larger predators.
Green peafowl has bright tail feathers with characteristic eyespots. Their necks are a vivid green, which is how they came about their name.
Interestingly, while Indian peafowl is more sex-specific in appearance, both Green peacocks and Green peahens look similar, with both sharing their long tails, which can grow to 6 feet long.
While still vocal in some situations, Green peacocks are quieter compared to Indian peacocks. They will call and screech at dusk and dawn but it is not as constant or as loud as other types of peacocks.
Green peafowl is largely polygynous, meaning one male will procreate with multiple females. However, they are rather solitary and one peacock will break away with multiple peahens to form a sort of harem.
While in captivity, however, there are many reports that Green peacocks are monogamous. Usually, one peacock and one peahen will form a bond and mate for life.
Due to the fact that Green peafowl are an endangered species, it is illegal to hunt or eat these birds. There is now a push for breeding programs to increase the number of these birds but right now their population is estimated to be between 5,000 and 10,000 in the wild.
The most common type of peacock, the Indian peafowl is native to the country of India and its surrounding areas. These peacocks are the stereotypical animal you would most likely think of.
The male peacocks have long tails, up to 5 feet long and when they spread their feathers you can see blue and green iridescent eyespots. The necks of Indian peacocks are bright blue and they have blue crowns on their heads.
As for female Indian peahens, they are more subdued in color. Their chests are mottled white and brown and their bodies and tail feathers are brown in color.
Indian peahens do have a trace of iridescent feathers on their throats but they are not nearly as iconic as peacocks. Furthermore, while they do have tails, they are short, only 4 to 6 inches in length.
In 1963, Indian peafowl became the national bird of India and as a result, their status has afforded them a high level of protection. It is illegal to hunt or eat Indian peafowl and they rank of least concern on the conservation status of animals.
However, while Indian peafowl is native to southeast Asia, you can find them around the world. The animals were brought to Europe in the 19th century and many grand estates in warmer climates have clusters of peacocks roaming the grounds.
Furthermore, you can find large packs of feral Indian peafowl all over Mexico. These animals can’t survive in temperatures that go below zero, and the Mexican climate can support them.
While it is illegal to hunt Indian peafowl in India, it is not illegal in other areas of the world. And, while it may seem odd to most people, you can indeed eat both the meat of Indian peafowl and their eggs.
While Green peacocks and Indian peacocks can be found in southeast Asia, Congo peacocks are the only species that is found in Africa, along the Congo Basin. This area is home to large swaths of rainforests and is their preferred habitat.
Congo peacocks have a unique appearance. They almost look like a cross between Indian peacocks and turkeys.
Male Congo peacocks have dark brown feathers with stripes of iridescent blue coloring. Their necks are red and they have a crown of white feathers.
Female Congo peahens have dark brown feathers on their chests and green feathers along their backs. They have a very small crest of red-brown feathers on their heads.
Now the national bird of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the population is still considered vulnerable in its conservation status. It is illegal to hunt or eat these birds but they still face growing threats as their habitat continues to shrink.
While hard to determine exactly how many Congo peafowl there are, estimates are at between 2,500 and 9,000 adults in the wild. There are now captivity breeding programs in many zoos to promote the number of these birds.
Different Colors and Variations of peacocks
The Indian peafowl is the most common bird and therefore the easiest to find if you are interested in having them on a hobby farm. Also, because of their large population, it is easier to find color variations of this species.
White Indian peafowl
At first glance, you might think these are albino peafowl, but they are actually classified as white peafowl. Albino Indian peafowl does exist but is extremely rare.
White peafowl has a color mutation in their genetics and is essentially born with the absence of color. Both the male peacocks and the female peahens will start out with pale yellow feathers as chicks and then as they develop adult feathers, these will become white.
Even the eyespots on the tail feathers of white peacocks are white, which is quite amazing.
Cameo Indian peafowl
Not quite white, not quite colorful, cameo peafowl is more of subdued brown color, even with peacocks. Male peacocks have a chocolate brown head but their face is white. While they do have eyespots on their tail feathers, they are brown and white in color.
As for cameo peahens, they have brown bodies with whiteheads. Their tails are a light brown color.
While definitely not as common, there are purple peacocks in captivity. Essentially, the purple shows up in the throat colorings of both peacocks and peahens.
Instead of the classic iridescent blue coloring of Indian peacocks, purple ones will have neck feathers that are darker. When the light hits just right, you can see the purple shades.
Pied Indian peafowl
Similar to white peafowl, pied peafowl has a genetic mutation. However, it allows some of the original coloring to come through.
For pied peacocks, they can be half iridescent and half white and black. Usually, their necks are the classic iridescent blue, but not always.
Pied peahens will have a mixture of black and white feathers, including on their backs, necks, and heads.
Pied peafowl exists in the wild but usually occur thanks to selective breeding. Breeders will do their best to select peacocks and peahens to mate in order to get the desired coloring.
What is the most common peacock?
The most common peacock is the Indian peacock, along with its female counterpart, the Indian peahen. While it is hard to tell how many Indian peafowls there are, most estimates peg the number around 100,000 wild birds in the India and Southeast Asia area.
However, there is even more Indian peafowl in zoos and animal sanctuaries around the world. Furthermore, these birds were once exported to different areas in an attempt to make their surroundings more exotic.
While Indian peafowl can’t live in cold climates, they seem to thrive in the warmer areas of the southern United States. You can find pockets of feral Indian peafowl in Florida and across the country of Mexico.
Even though Indian peafowl is the most common, thanks to their glorious colorings and the intricate long feathers of the peacocks, there are other species to be found. Green peafowl and Congo peafowl are slowly losing their habitats but now that there is a greater awareness of it, it is hopeful that they can be better protected.