Peacock feathers are a beauty to behold. Much more if they’re spread out into a spectacular sight.
But have you ever paused to wonder why these birds occasionally put on stunning displays with their feathers?
Well, this article explores the top reasons a peacock is likely to spread out his feathers.
Reasons Peacocks Spread Out Their Feathers?
The main reason peacocks spread out their feathers is that it’s part of a courting ritual.
As with most male animals, it’s the duty of a peacock to court a peahen. And attracting a worthy mating partner doesn’t come easy. You’ve got to give a good account of yourself and hope that your love interest doesn’t settle for your closest challenger.
In a peacock’s world, the hidden charm in attracting a potential mate lies in spreading out and shaking his majestic feathers. The targeted peahen can then choose if the peacock is a perfect candidate to mate with based on the sheer size and display of his spread feathers. Both scientists and casual observers note that peahens will typically choose a peacock whose spread feathers reveal more eyespots.
It’s also important to note that a peacock will spread his feathers to attract mates even if he already got some. It’s part of the bird’s primal instincts to acquire more conquests. And the most interesting bit is that once the spread feathers pique the interest of peahens, the hens will now jostle for the cock’s attention.
Another fun fact is that not every peahen will fall for majestic feathers. Some hens may feel intimidated with peacocks whose feathers are too large and showy.
The following are other reasons peacocks spread their feathers;
1. To Scare Away Predators
You must have observed how a mother hen spreads her plumage to defend her vulnerable chicks upon sighting a swooping eagle. The same happens with peacocks.
Spreading the feathers helps peacocks to scare away potential predators. That’s despite the fact that the other animal may be visibly larger and stronger.
Common animals that prey on peacocks include tigers, leopards, jungle cats, stray dogs, and mongooses.
2. A Display of Territoriality
All male birds are fiercely territorial. And peacocks are no exception. One way peacocks mark their territories is by spreading their legs.
The behavior could be directed to fellow peacocks or other animals, including humans. And if the warning goes unheeded, the peacock may go on an all-out offensive.
3. A Sign of Happiness
Some peacocks spread their feathers as a sign of happiness and contentment.
When a peacock feels safe in his surroundings and has access to plenty of food, the bird won’t mind fanning his feathers and rattling them. This is commonly observed among peacocks in a park or the zoo.
4. To Communicate
Scientists have recently discovered that spreading and rattling of the wings is one way peacocks communicate with one another.
That’s especially if it’s accompanied by other visual signs and vocalizations.
What Is It Called When A Peacock Spreads His Feathers?
The impressive display of a peacock’s spread feathers is known as ‘trains.’ When a strutting sound accompanies the fanning display, it’s called ‘train rattling.’
‘Ocellus’ is another relevant term as far as peacock feathers are concerned. The word denotes the ‘eyespot’ created when a peacock’s feathers are fully open. Scientists believe that between 140 and 170 long feathers spread out to create these eyespots.
When Does A Peacock Grow His First Train?
Most peacocks can display their first train at the age of two years. However, the trains will continue to grow until the bird is around six years.
A peacock’s train can grow to as large as 55 – 63 inches and weigh as much as 0.5 pounds. The train makes up over 60% of the bird’s entire body length.
Does Train Rattling Inhibit a Peacock’s Movements?
The sheer size and weight of a peacock’s train doesn’t prevent him from moving with his plumage spread out. The bird will still take off and fly shorter distances with his plumage fully open and rattling.
In fact, when aggression is the primary reason behind his spread wings, a peacock will easily charge at the assailant with the train fully open.
Do Peacock Feathers Shed?
Yes, they do. Peacocks shed their feathers annually, usually at the end of the mating seasons.
However, the feathers will regrow to their majestic size by the next mating season.
How Often Do Peacocks Spread Their Feathers?
Despite the numerous reasons behind a peacock’s train rattling, this behavior doesn’t happen every other day.
You’re more likely to sight the peacock’s train during the mating seasons. Thereafter, it will take a significant amount of provocation for the bird to fan out his feathers.
Do Peahens Spread Their Feathers?
Both peacocks and peahens spread their feathers. And the reasons are mostly the same, except for mating rituals.
Peahens are unlikely to spread their feathers to attract mates. That’s a male domain where peacocks excel better at.
Peacocks spread their feathers for many reasons, ranging from courtship ritual to aggression, territoriality, and happiness. It’s important to establish the reasons behind a peacock’s train rattling when you’re within close proximity of these birds.
For instance, inching closer to an upset peacock in a bid to behold his train might earn you a few pecks or scratches. Not exactly how you want your peacock sighting adventure to end.