Indian blue peafowl are known best for their exquisite train and plumage. If the length of the tail and wing span is included, the peafowl is considered one of the largest flying birds. They weigh in between 2.7-6 kg and have a wingspan of 1.4-1.6 m. They vary widely in length from 0.86-2.12 m. This species has long, strong, grayish-brown legs equipped for running away into brush for safety. Both sexes are equipped with spurs that are around 2.5 cm long; males will use them during the breeding season to ward off other competing males. Females are brown, grey, and cream-colored. Chicks are usually a light yellow to brown color. The males have a long train, about 1.2 m in length on average, from June to December. The train is discarded in January, but is grown again at a rapid pace when breeding season approaches. Their necks and breasts are a bright blue, golden feathers line their sides and backs, and their trains are an iridescent arrangement of multiple colors featuring ocelli (eye-spots). When displayed, the male’s train spreads out in a wide fan, showing off gold, brown, green, and black feathers. Around 30 to 40 of the ocelli around the outer edges of the fan are not round but v-shaped. This complicated pattern is thought to be an advantage in mating, and even though it might seem like this bright pattern would make peafowl stand out, they can very easily disappear into foliage, making it extremely hard to spot.
There are three variations in the Indian blue peafowl. The white feathered peafowl has completely white feathers from the top of its head to the end of its train, with the ocelli barely visible. These are not albinos because they are true breeders (when bred with another white feathered peafowl, all their offspring will be white feathered peafowl as well) and have brown eyes. In another version known as pied, random white feathers appear in the plumage. This results from an incomplete dominant gene. Due to a different mutation, another variation results in dark feathers with blue and green tips, called the black-winged peafowl. In addition, Pavo cristatus can hybridize with the green peafowl, Pavo muticus. For the past two decades, a new mutation in the plumage has been discovered almost every year.
Range mass: 2.7 to 6 kg.
Average mass: 4 kg.
Range length: 0.86 to 2.12 m.
Average length: 1.50 m.
Range wingspan: 1.4 to 1.6 m.
Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry ; polymorphic
Sexual Dimorphism: male larger; sexes colored or patterned differently; male more colorful; ornamentation
- Somes, R., R. Burger. 1993. Inheritance of the white and pied plumage color patterns in the Indian Peafowl (Pavo cristatus). Journal of Heredity, 84/1: 57.
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