How to tell a peahen from a peacock

Written by kathryn hatter
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How to tell a peahen from a peacock
Peacocks show impressive tail feathers. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

The peafowl bird species includes male peacocks and female peahens. The impressive sight of a peacock strutting with his tail feathers plumed out often comes to mind at the mention of peacocks. You will only find the colourful peafowl feathers on the male peacocks, with peahens exhibiting more muted colours in their feathers. When you understand the differences between peafowl genders, you can tell a peahen from a peacock easily.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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  1. 1

    Examine the tail feathers of a peafowl. If a peacock is at least 3 years old, you should see coloured tail feathers, even when the peacock is not fanning its tail. A peahen has tail feathers, but they are a dull and muted brown or grey colour.

  2. 2

    Notice the colouring on the breast, head and neck of a peafowl. Male peafowl species often have vivid green or blue feathers on these areas. A peahen may have a hint of green feathers on her neck, but she will lack the same vivid colouring of a peacock. A peahen often has a cream-coloured underside.

  3. 3

    Observe the size of the peafowl. Peacocks can grow up to 7 1/2 feet long and females may grow only about 3 feet long, according to the Animal Corner website. A peacock might weigh between 4.08 and 5.9kg., and a peahen might weigh between 6 and 9lbs.

  4. 4

    Watch the behaviour of the peafowl, especially during the mating season when a peacock may be trying to attract peahens. A peacock will fan its tail, exhibiting green, blue and golden "eyes" throughout the feathers. Peacocks often strut with their tails fanned, and they may make loud crows to peahens to attract additional attention.

Tips and warnings

  • If you observe peafowl during moulting periods, it may be difficult to determine gender by feathers alone. Peacocks lose their vivid tail feathers when they moult and you might only see brown or grey feathers remaining on both genders.

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