What Is a Peacock?

peacock Credit: Paul Turner / EyeEm/EyeEm/Getty Images

A peacock is a male peafowl with long, colorful tail feathers that fan out to display dominance, sexual attraction and maturity. The feathers are dotted with eye-shaped patterns and iridescent colors, which can be used to both confuse predators and attract mates. Female peafowl choose a peacock based on feather size, color, quality and strut. Dominant males can gather harems of females all at once, resulting in large broods of peafowl young.

A group of peacocks is known as a party. These birds are omnivores but mostly feast on insects, small rodents and other ground-dwelling animals. Admired by humans, peacocks have been kept as pets for centuries, dating back to the Egyptian era when the distinctive markings around their eyes inspired queens and pharaohs to show off their royal rankings with similar kohl markings. Their feathers were also kept as symbols of immortality and renewal.

Peacocks have aggressive temperaments when paired with other male peafowl. Wild peafowl congregate in groups in the forest trees of India, Sri Lanka Burma and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. While blue and green peacocks are the most well-known peafowl, decades of interbreeding have produced unusual, vibrant color combinations.