Why Do Peacocks Spread Their Feathers? Explained In Detail

When we see birds with incredibly stunning plumage, surely peacocks have their spot on your mental list. 

And for good reason, since they are most recognized for their wonderfully colorful and majestic feathers, and their long train. 

It has a green and blue iridescent plumage that contrasts perfectly with the warmer bronze shades. 

This added along with its eye-like spots that are truly mesmerizing when opened, the peacock is a show-stopper indeed.

So if you have ever had the visual pleasure of seeing a peacock spread its feathers in a wonderful semi-circle, we are sure you wondered why they did that. 

It seems like a lot of work – to pick up that load of feathers and keep it upright at about 6-7 feet. 

Well we are sure it is a bit of work but they have their reasons, and today we will discuss those reasons and learn about peacocks and their ways a little. Let’s get into it!

Why Do Peacocks Spread Their Feathers?

Peacocks Spread Their Feathers For Attracting Mates

The basic and primary reason peacocks engage in this display is to attract a mate.

When the season rolls around, each peacock is hard at work trying its best to boast its specific set and pattern of feathers to impress a female. 

Every peacock has a distinct look of its own – with its colors and differently placed eyespots. A peacock needs to have about two to three peahens every year.

The female fowl is the one to choose her mate. What criteria she follows is not exactly known to us, but she generally looks at the more dominant males who boast the bigger, brighter, and more color options than the weaker ones. 

The dominant males also usually have an array of very loyal mates who flock around them admiring their train. 

Once the peahen has made her choice, they mate and she lays about 3-8 eggs which then hatch in about a month. Peahens are fully responsible for raising the young fowl and the peacock plays no part.

Peacocks Spread Their Feathers For Communicating With Others

Scientists have also discovered that spreading their feathers out and displaying them is not the only thing peacocks do. 

They also rattle their feathers, which makes a sound as the feathers rub against one another. This sound is believed to also be a form of communication along with attracting the male. 

We have not yet translated what exactly the peacocks are saying, but we know it is working with the peahens! 

Peahens, even if they cannot boast the same level of length or beauty in their feathers, also fan them out. 

When this behavior was observed, it seemed to be the female fowl’s way of communicating to the male that she had chosen him.

Peacocks Spread Their Feathers To Scare Off Predators

Wild peafowl lives in the forested areas of India, Pakistan, Myanmar, and Java. 

As you might have guessed, they are ground-dwelling creatures and so are prey to creatures like mongooses, leopards, tigers, and jungle cats. 

Although their feathers make them a delight to look at, a flight is not as easy for them. They usually fly up into trees to escape predators and also sleep atop branches to keep them safe.

But when they do not get the chance to escape though, they cannot run very fast because of their feathers and thus can be cornered. 

In situations like these, the males will fan out their feathers as high as they can go. 

All the eyes staring back can intimidate and scare off the predator and it might choose to eat something else instead. And so, this behavior also has a crucial protective aspect to it.

Why Do Peacocks Spread Their Feathers To Humans?

Though we humans appreciate and love their wonderful feathers, our praise does not mean much to these birds themselves. 

They will most usually display when they see a possible mate and want to attract her attention. 

But they can be seen displaying in the absence of any female fowl and there are many speculations as to why.

Many peacocks, Indian peacocks especially, are believed to dance when it rains – but this is actually not true. 

It is just a case of coincidence that the rain falls right around the breeding season for them. 

The most probable answer to why a peacock displays to humans could either be that they have some need from you. 

More usually though, they see you as a possible threat and are trying to intimidate you with their eye-like spots.

What Is It Called When A Peacock Spreads Its Feathers?

When a peacock spreads its feathers all around and up, it is called displaying.

Displaying is when they show off their wonderful plumage with vivid shades of blue-green, bronze, copper, and so on, to attract mates and impress potential partners.

They also use it as a protective mechanism to scare and ward off predators they cannot escape from.

Why Do Peacocks Have Eyes On Their Feathers?

Maybe the most striking thing about a peacock’s appearance is the eyespots that they have on their feathers, called ocelli. 

Some peacocks have up to 130 eyespots and their main role is during the courtship rituals. 

Charles Darwin, in his famous books, has described this fascinating evolution to be as a result of sexual selection.

A lot of energy from the body goes into keeping the eye feathers colorful and dense, and sexual success for the male seems to be the main benefit. 

But what exactly the female is crazy about, we cannot say, as she seems to pay heed to the width of the peacock’s tail a lot more than the spots themselves, a study found.

Another study made using eye-tracking technology finally reached the tentative conclusion that the males call over the females with their striking eyes, as the female fowl looked more at the eyes when the male was far away.

In Conclusion

And that was the fascinatingly colorful world of peacocks and their plumage.

We are all constantly captivated by their wonderful colors and patterns, and now we can also understand the reasons why they display their feathers, and it is not to show them off to us! We hope you had a fun time learning with us.

Thank you for reading!

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