Why Do Peacocks Spread Their Feathers? What Does It Mean? | Kidadl


Why Do Peacocks Spread Their Feathers? What Does It Mean?

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The peacock happens to be an extremely beautiful species of bird.  

The size of its body and the way it displays its beautiful plumage leaves us ogling at its beauty. In this article, we have focused on answering the question as to why these beautiful birds spread their feathers. 

The peacock is a very special bird and is gifted with many eye-catching qualities. The way it struts around and the way it spreads its plumage displaying its beauty all in its glory is a very fascinating sight that attracts many people. Both the male peacock and the female peacock, also known as a peahen, are visually distinct. The display of the tail feathers of a female peacock is nothing like that of a male peacock. The patterns on their plumage are visually appealing which, when displayed in all its glory, leaves its spectators in awe. Because of its beauty, extraordinary features, and its fascinating involvement in different traditions, many people consider the bird and its wing sacred.

The following article will answer your questions about the peacock’s extraordinary characteristics. To know more about birds, you may also read our why do woodpeckers peck wood and when do roosters start crowing pages.

What is special about peacock feathers? 

The visual display of a peacock’s plumage will tell you a lot about this fascinating bird’s behavior.  Irrespective of the species of peacock one will find a glorious charm in these birds. But to tell you, these birds do not spread their feathers in vain. The main purpose behind the display of their feathers is to mate. 

Science suggests that an attractive feature is typically necessary for the purpose of courtship display. During the mating season, the peacock spreads its tail feathers all in its glory to attract the female peahen. The more attractive the display, the more the chances to mate. Peacocks display their tail plumage in a half-circle and try making it look more attractive and bigger than the fellow male peacock. The bigger the appearance of the tail the more likely the female peafowl is to mate with the peafowl. The male peafowl spreads its feathers attracting the female peahen. The peafowl shakes its body at a fast speed, shaking its plumage in a way to lure her for mating during the mating season.

What is it called when peacocks spread their feathers? 

The beautiful display of the peacock feathers is termed as trains. In scientific studies, the term ‘train rattling’ is used for this behavior of peacocks. The most important purpose of peacocks displaying this behavior is courtship. A train displaying plumage with eyespots is an evolutionary feature for mating in peacocks.  

This impressive display of the plumage of the tails by males (peacock) is mostly for finding a female peahen for mating. When male peacocks spread their tails a display of color-filled eyespots that are visually very appealing can be seen. These dazzling eyespots on the feathers have a teal color in them and when they are seen from far they appear sparkly and magical. These eyespots on completely fanned-out tails are also very important to boast and scare other male peacocks away. So the purpose of ‘train’ is not exactly for defense but to attract mates and to shoo away the potential male rivals.

How often do peacocks spread their feathers?  

Even though we may see peacocks running and playing around their vicinity very often, these creatures have sneaky behavior. The display of the feathers of a peacock is a sight to see. 

Many tourists every year spend a good amount of money to visit places where they can find a peacock displaying their tail feathers. Research on these creatures suggest that peafowls (both peacock and peahen) display their feathers all around the year. But they do it very often, especially during the mating season. What is a rare sight to see for us humans is these birds displaying their tail feathers with a train. The sight, the glory, and the sparkly eyespots on the feathers of these peacock birds are all to die for! Apart from all the scientific observation, a peacock spreading its tail feathers is a representation of pride, nobility in various beliefs across the world. The peacock bird is also considered a patron of goddess Hera according to Greek mythology. According to this mythology, Hera placed her eye on the feathers of the peacock bird which indicated the coming of wisdom from heaven. The constant appearance of peacocks in mythological beliefs across the world has added more value to the mere spreading of the tail feathers by this beautiful bird. 

What makes peacocks spread their feathers? 

We humans have always been fascinated by the act of the impressive display of the feathers of a peacock. The studies of evolution suggest the displaying of feathers of a male peacock and a female peahen as an evolutionary behavior necessary to initiate mating which is in turn necessary for the purpose of maintaining the number of species in the natural habitat. 

This behavior is seen in almost all macroscopic animals. Grooming and boasting to attract a mate are typically incorporated in the genes of the animals. It is a genetically inherited characteristic to impress the opposite sex to attract them for mating via a courtship display. It is also a symbol of visual superiority amongst the same sexes. All peacocks, just like other animals irrespective of the differences in their species, use their tail feathers to attract a mate for mating during the mating season. Many times this involves a boastful dance called a train that adds more glory to their physical appearance.

Close up of peacock showing its beautiful feathers.

How do peacocks spread their feathers?  

The glorious display of the tail feathers of the peacock bird is a sight to see! The majestic display of the tail feathers shows all the eyespots and the colors in them beautifully.  

A peafowl (both peahen and peacock) spread its tail feathers year-round and more specifically during the mating season. This spreading is a part of the ritual involving courtship display. The peacock bird spreads its tail feathers in a semicircle and fans it to make it more appealing to its potential mating partner. The tail feathers in the semicircular arrangement appear like a halo around the body of the peacock bird making it visually very appealing. This is how the mates are selected during the season! 

Why do peacocks shed?  

Growing old is a way of life. This is how the cycle of life works and this is how mother nature has been designed. Shedding is the part of growing old or more specifically it is a result of aging.  

Just like the cells in the skin of humans shed often and are replaced by a new skin, feathers in peacocks shed after a period of time and are replaced by new ones. Since the feathers on the body of the birds (peacock or any other bird) cannot regenerate, they shed. This process of shedding generally happens post-mating season. These feathers are then replaced by the new ones before the arrival of the next mating season.   

What is so interesting about the peacock’s tail? 

What is fascinating to know is that we humans generally think that a peacock's tail is just an ornamental part of its body. It has a much bigger use than what we know.

Scientists say that peacocks and peahens use their tails to attract mates during the mating season. Peahens are attracted to those peafowls that possess a larger train (a peacock tail spread in all its glory) during the mating season. Researchers suggest that the female peacock does so because the peafowls with a bigger tail will ultimately give the peahens the advantage of bearing healthier chicks. The potential of a male peacock getting selected as a mate during the mating season by peahens increases with a bigger train by a peacock.  

Apart from being ornamental in appearance, the use of the peacock’s tail is more than what we know. There are many interesting things about peacock’s tail that researchers have discovered and there are many more to discover yet. 

Quite interestingly, peacocks use their tail feathers by spreading them and attracting mates during the mating season. Besides, many people are interested in collecting peacock feathers; the good part is they do not have to kill these peacocks for these feathers since they shed their feathers timely. During mating, peacocks fan their feathers to create a train, which is also said to be producing a low-frequency sound that is inaudible to us human beings.  

When does the mating season begin for peacocks? 

Mating for peacock birds happens seasonally. Their mating occurs once every year. 

For peacocks mating seasons begin around the month of February. This is when the peacock's tail feathers have grown in all their glory. The appearance of eggs occurs after 20 - 30 days of mating. Hatching occurs mostly around April or May while many even hatch eggs around late August. The mating ritual in peacocks is quite fascinating to observe. Both male peacocks and female peacocks during the mating season fan their tails brilliantly displaying the sparkly blue and teal tail feathers. This scene is visually appealing and female peacocks get the opportunity of selecting their mates on the basis of their visual appearance. The bigger the train of the peafowl, the more his chance of getting selected for the purpose of mating. Practically, the mating season is when adult peacocks get to advertise their physical fitness. One thing researchers get to learn here is that the peahen selecting a peafowl based on his physical fitness is a pure indication of working of natural selection in nature. 

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for why do peacocks spread their feathers then why not take a look at why do parrots talk or peacock facts?

The Kidadl Team is made up of people from different walks of life, from different families and backgrounds, each with unique experiences and nuggets of wisdom to share with you. From lino cutting to surfing to children’s mental health, their hobbies and interests range far and wide. They are passionate about turning your everyday moments into memories and bringing you inspiring ideas to have fun with your family.

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