Peafowl are the second largest member of the pheasant and turkey family. Although commonly called peacocks, this term is property applied only to the male peafowl. Female peafowl are called peahens and the very young are called peachicks. There are two species of peafowl found in the wild, the Indian Blue and the Green Peafowl.
Peacocks are one of the most colorful and strikingly marked of all birds. One of the best known features of these birds is the fan or "train", which is opened and displayed to attract the peahen. These feathers are actually long extensions of the upper tail covers. They are supported from underneath by the much shorter tail feathers. These feathers grow to be several feet long, but are shed each year just after the breeding season. Each of these long feathers also has a design near its tip which resembles an eye. The feathers of the peacock are composed of many colors, including crescent sheens of bright blue and green. The peahen lacks these long, showy tall feathers and although colorful, is not nearly as brilliant as the male. Both sexes also have a crest of short, erect feathers along the crown of their heads.
Although peacocks are large, powerful birds, they are somewhat weak fliers and spend much of their time on the ground looking for food or perching. Peafowl feed on many different types of food including both plants and small animals. They seem to be especially fond of snakes, even poisonous ones! Peafowl will fly for short distances, especially to escape danger, and also to roost in treetops at night. They often warn each other when danger approaches by loud shrieking cries and honks. Peafowl also call during the mating season to attract members of the opposite sex. The peacock spreads its fan of tail feathers and then struts and displays himself to potential mates. Peahens lay from 3 to 5 whitish eggs usually in a shallow depression dug in the ground, hidden underneath brush or in some other concealed location. The female incubates the eggs for approximately 28 days. After hatching, the young chicks follow the mother about for protection, even though they are capable of foraging on their own. The Indian Peafowl is native to India. In the wild, these peafowl usually live in small family groups, preferring dense, hilly jungle near water. The closely related Green Peacock is found in southeast Asia.