Often mistakenly referred to as the peacock
, the Indian peafowl, or pavo cristatus
, is the national bird
. The word peacock actually refers to the male peafowl, whereas a female is called a peahen.
Male peafowls are best known for their beautiful trains. When trying to attract a female, the peacock will open it up and display it to his potential mate, spreading out its long, vivid green upper tail coverts. Although it would appear to most that the long feathers are indeed a peacock's tail, these feathers actually act as a cover for the peacock's real tail - which happens to be brown. Each one of the 100-150 feathers feature a dark blue spot with light blue and bronze rings circling it.
A peacock won't fully grow it's train until it is about three years of age, and once it does develop one, it can expect it to keep growing until the end of its fourth or fifth year. The train will be malted in towards the end of each Summer and will grow back some time before the end of Winter. The head and neck of a peacock is a metallic blue while the back is bronze.
A peahen, on the other hand, lacks this long, brightly coloured train. The tail feathers that it does have are less colourful and its head and neck are similiar in appearance to the male.
Typical peafowls grow to a length of 2 1/2 feet to 4 1/2 feet, and the train of a male can grow as long as 5 feet. A full grown peafowl usually weighs around 13 pounds.
Peafowls usually obtain their food by foraging. There are plenty of things that they will eat - both plant and animal. Grain, insects, small reptiles, mammals and poisonous snakes are among the list, however wild figs and berries are believed to be favourite foods.
Peafowls are quite commonly found in rural areas of India. Most peafowls prefer to live in dense forests or jungles in hilly areas where streams or rivers are nearby. They also like areas with a lot of bushes and reeds on forest floor. Sometimes peafowls also appear in groveland within close proximity to villages and towns.
Because peafowl are polygamous, its not uncommon for many peahens to mate with a single peacock. Mating season usually begins at the start of the summer monsoon. In Southern India this is around January until April. Peahen's will not lay eggs during their first year (there are exceptions, however) and after the second year they will start laying up to 5-9 eggs at a time. Once laid, the eggs are incubated for, on average, 28 days. Incubation is done by the female, who will stay by the eggs for almost 24 hours a day. The nests for these eggs are usually hidden away under thorny shrubbery.