There are only three known species of peafowl and all of these large birds have beautiful plumage. But can peacocks fly with those incredible feathers?
While these birds are able to fly, they cannot travel in the air very far. That’s why, we often see them on the ground and hardly ever up in the air. In this article, I’ll take a closer look at what peacocks can fly and why they do it.
Types of Peafowl
Peafowl, as we generally know them are the Indian Peafowl. Instantly recognizable with a mass of brilliantly colored feathers, the peacock is heralded as an icon of beauty. The other 2 species are very rare and only occasionally reported. For our purposes, we will be investigating the Indian Peafowl.
Indian Peafowl (Pavo cristatus)
As the range map shows below, the Indian Peafowl is native to India and surrounding areas. Elsewhere, established populations are across the globe and are classed as exotic.
Green Peafowl (Pavo muticus)
The Green Peafowl is a rare rainforest bird, only seen in south east Asia.
Congo Peacock (Afropavo congensis)
Another rare peafowl, only seen occasionally in parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Can Peacocks fly?
Within the Peafowl family, only the males are known as peacocks, while a female peafowl is called a peahen.
Peacocks are able to fly but they cannot fly long distances or for a longer period of time. It’s very unusual for a peacock to get up into the air. Once they start flying, they are likely to only travel a mile maximum.
However, most peacocks don’t fly at all unless they need to fly up into a tree for shelter and roosting at night, or overcome obstacles. When they come down again in the morning, they simply glide off the tree.
As peacocks are large birds with longer tail feathers, they typically fly only to spread their wings for a short time or jump. They typically spend most of their time on the ground forging for food, such as insects.
Can Peahen fly?
Peahens, can also fly in a similar way to males. They fly into trees to roost during the night and then glide down in the morning to forage over the day. Unlike male peacocks, peahens lack the long tail fathers. Plus, they are also smaller. While this makes them a little lighter than males, they still don’t fly often or far.
How do Peafowl fly?
Peafowl have a fascinating way to get up into the air. Although they have long tail feathers, they don’t affect the bird’s ability to fly. Instead, peafowl propel themselves into the air with their strong legs. This can be as high up as 8m.
Once they reach the right height, they start flapping their wings to get to the right tree branch to roost overnight. Peafowl are extremely agile and they are experts at avoiding any obstacles that might be in their wide.
During flight, they keep their head straight and spread their beautiful wing feathers into a fan shape.
Why do Peafowl fly?
Just like other birds, peafowl use flight to overcome obstacles and keep away from predators. There are a large number of predators that these beautiful birds have to avoid, including tigers, leopards, dogs and mongoose. These are the common predators in the Indian Peafowl’s native home countries of Sri Lanka, Java, Burma and India.
In addition, peafowl also fly short distances to travel to new food sources. However, as peafowl have a varied diet consisting of seeds, amphibians, reptiles and insects, they don’t need to go very far.
How fast can Peafowl fly?
As peafowl aren’t the best flight birds, they only reach a leisurely speed of 10mph.
At what age can a baby Peafowl fly?
Baby peafowl, also known as peachicks, can fly from a very early age because their feathers are already developed. A peachick can fly from around three days old. However, as peafowl generally don’t tend to fly regularly, baby peafowl prefer to avoid flying for the first weeks of lives.
Why don’t all Peafowl fly?
Peafowl aren’t keen on flying but some domestic peafowl aren’t able to fly at all because they have their wings clipped. This stops them flying most of the time. However, due to the way peafowl fly, they tend to still jump into trees.
How to stop a Peafowl flying away
People keep peafowl as pets or as domesticated birds. Peafowl owners need to allow these large birds to roam widely in order to find food for the day and roost at night. As they can travel very far with their muscular legs, there are only a few ways to stop them from escaping.
Clip the Peafowl’s wings
One of the most popular ways to keep peafowl from flying away is by clipping their wings. However, it’s important to understand that these strong birds can still jump extremely high. This is essential for a peafowl as they prefer to roost high up in trees overnight. This is their natural behavior that should be encouraged.
Build high fences
In addition to clipping their wings, you should also build high fences if you want to keep your peafowl from roaming across a large area. A peafowl can jump as high as 8 meters, so make sure that your peafowl enclosure is high enough to keep your birds in.
Create a food source
A much more affordable way to keep your birds nearby is to provide an adequate food source for them. You can train peafowl to return to a spot with bird food, insects and other peafowl delicacies.
Peafowl have the ability to fly but they only fly up into trees to roost overnight and spend most of their day foraging on the ground.
Only if you just want to admire their beauty. They will not really interact with you and so are very little fun.
Actually, there is. Peafowl spend their days scouring the ground for food and as they are omnivores, they will eat insects, rodents and snakes. That is all good for the garden.
In the wild, the life expectancy for peafowl is between 10 and 25 years. In a domestic situation, that is extended to as much as 40+ years.