View from the Zoo: Impressive display to attract a mate

A male peacock puts on a great display of its colourful tail feathers.
A male peacock puts on a great display of its colourful tail feathers.

If you have ever visited Flamingo Land you may have noticed we have free ranging peafowl, or peacocks, in our park. The peacocks are very friendly which is why we are able to allow them to wander around the park and not keep them within an enclosure.

Peacocks are very vocal animals, particularly in breeding season. They display a selection or various calls to each other ranging from honks to meow-like calls. During spring is the best time to see them as our males are currently doing their best to display their beautiful feathers to attract the females. Make sure you have your cameras at the ready around the park.

There are three species of peacock still living today, the Indian, Congo and Green. Our peacocks are Indian, and it is also the national bird of India. The male Indian peacock displays a bright blue head and chest, with an array of colours on his long impressive tail feathers. These feathers can make up to two-thirds of the birds’ body length.

The purpose of the tail feathers is for the male to fan them out to help him attract a female mate. The more impressive the feathers look, the higher the probability of him finding a mate. However there is a trade-off to how long and heavy he should make his feathers as this would restrict his mobility and ability to fly and escape from predators.

Thus it really is an example of ‘the survival of the fittest’! Females are not as brightly coloured as the males, they are a grey-brownish colour, and are better at camouflaging away from predators, particularly when sitting on eggs in a 
nest.

You may also see some pure white peahens, which are naturally occurring albino mutations. In the wild these bright birds would be extremely vulnerable to predators so are seen much less often!

Peacocks tend to stick to a particular territory, with several females surrounding him. After mating, some of the females will choose instead to nest in or under trees.

They will incubate fertilised eggs for 28-30 days, after which around 4-6 young will hatch out. These will then follow mum, feeding from her bill before eventually learning what they are able to eat; usually insects and small grubs.

As it is the native bird of India, it is highly protected in many areas in the wild.

It would face a small amount of threats in the wild such as for meat and feathers, but its population numbers are fairly abundant.