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Indian peacocks (Pavo cristatus) are some of the globe's most unforgettable and physically stunning animals, what with their vivid decorative trains. The females of the species are nowhere near as showy in the feather department -- and they're known as peahens, rather than peacocks. When talking about both of the genders, the term is peafowl.
Trains and Predation
Indian peahens are visually a lot more lackluster than peacocks, and for good reason pertaining to the survival of offspring. While the males have to be conspicuous to gain the attentions of females for breeding, the goal of the females is to stay as far under the radar as possible. If peahens can mix in seamlessly with the rest of their environment, potential predators might miss them while egg incubation is going on. The differences in plumage are a practical survival adaptation against predation.
Spotting Indian peacocks remotely is often a piece of cake for their predators. Some of their most common predators are tigers, leopards, civets, wild canines and mongooses. The train is extremely problematic for Indian peacocks, as it sometimes blocks them from being able to see dangerous predators that might be coming up to them from the back. When predators try to tug on their trains, the fowl sometimes get lucky. Their feathers often simply drop to the ground -- enabling the peacocks to bolt the scene immediately.
Although peacocks are more vulnerable to predation by these animals, peahens experience it, too.
People are prominent predators are both sexes of Indian peafowl, and they hunt them for various reasons. They sometimes consume their eggs and flesh, for example. Some people even go after them for recreational hunting. Despite that, Indian peafowl are not endangered, thanks to their steady population growth.
Flying isn't a common behavior in Indian peafowls, although running is. When they're trying to escape predators, they do often resort to flying, however. Indian peafowl are also extremely vocal when in protective mode. If they suspect impending peril, they alert others around them by partaking in lots of noisy and shrill squawking. This also comes in handy for alerting different animals that might be nearby, such as deer. Indian peafowl also retreat to high trees at night -- another means of staying away from predators. The diurnal birds roost in sizable groups.
- Rolling Hills Zoo: Common (Indian) Peacock
- Rosamund Gifford Zoo: Indian Peafowl
- National Geographic Kids: Indian Peafowl
- University of Michigan Animal Diversity Web: Pavo Cristatus
- SeaWorld Animal Bytes: Indian Peafowl
- Denver Zoo: Indian Peafowl
- IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Pavo Cristatus
- San Diego Zoo Animals: Peafowl
- Anup Shah/Photodisc/Getty Images