Male vs. Female Peacocks: What’s the Difference?

Male vs. female peacock

While we’ve always addressed male and female peacocks with the same name, there is actually a more accurate way to call them — peacock for male and peahen for female. Together, they are called peafowls (Pavo cristatus)!

If you want to learn more about the differences between a male and female peacock aside from their names, here’s an overview you might find helpful:

Peacock (Male)Peahen (Female)
Feather Colors and Markings:
Blue and green feathers; blue markings on the belly
Feather Colors and Markings:
Gray, cream, and brown feathers; distinct white markings on the belly
Size and Body Weight:
3 to 4 ½ feet;
9 to 13 pounds
Size and Body Weight:
2 ½ to 3 ½ feet;
6 to 9 pounds
Head and Neck:
Feather crest found on the head is bluish or greenish in color; has white under-eye markings; neck has blue feathers that look like soft fur
Head and Neck:
Feather crest found on the head is tan or brown in color; under-eye markings match skin color; neck feathers look like scales with bluish to a greenish hue
Train Length:
75 inches
Train Length:
2 to 6 inches
Prefers isolation; shakes and rattles their tail; has no parental instinct after mating
Prefers to live in groups; aggressive during mating season; very maternal after mating

This guide goes into detail about the differences I highlighted above. If you are interested in learning more, keep on reading!

Feather Colors and Markings

Male and female peacock with different colors and markings

The most obvious difference between a male and a female peacock is their colors and markings. In fact, just by looking at the color alone, one can easily identify a male from a female peacock.

Male peacocks exhibit a vibrant shade of blue on their covert feathers. They use this to attract potential mates during the reproduction season. This also makes them stand out, leading to difficulty in camouflaging.

Female peafowls, on the other hand, have a more muted feathering. They usually sport gray, cream, or brown feathers, and it is rare for them to showcase iridescent blue or green tones. 

A good thing about their subdued color is that they have more advantages in the wild. They can easily camouflage themselves in case an animal is preying on them.

Another thing is that female peacocks have white bellies. This is far different from the male’s vibrant blue belly that also matches the iridescent shade of their attractive feathers.

Overall, male and female peacocks are both outstanding on their own. While the male peacock takes pride in having vibrant blue colors, the female peacock is also sure to stun with its muted hue.

Size and Weight

Similar to other species, there is also a variation in the size of a female peacock and a male peacock. 

Female peacocks are usually smaller, while adult males fall on the bigger end — this is true for both mature peacocks and peachicks (baby peacocks).

To be specific, female peacocks only weigh six to nine pounds, while their male counterparts weigh 9 to 13 pounds. In terms of height, females can only grow between 2 ½ and 3 ½ feet, while male peacocks stand at 3 to 4 ½ feet. 

Female peacocks usually mature faster than males at the age of two. Male peacocks, on the other hand, reach maturity as they turn three. Once they reach the maturity stage, there would be little to no changes in their size. 

Head and Neck

Male and female peacock up close

There are quite some significant differences in the heads of male and female peacocks. 

For starters, the feather crest found at the top of the head of both male and female peacocks varies in color. 

For a male peacock, it is similar to the blue or greenish hue of their whole body. Meanwhile, the crest of their female counterparts is usually tan or brown.

You can also spot a difference between the white markings found on their eyes. 

Although both male and female peacocks have distinct white markings “above” the eyes, the “under” eye markings of a female peacock match their skin color; thus, it looks unnoticeable.

Both male and female peafowls have long necks. But the neck of an adult male peacock has feathers that are typically blue, and they look like soft fur. 

That of a female peacock has scale-like feathers with a green-to-bluish tint. Also, male peacocks cannot ruffle their neck feathers like female peacocks.

Train Length

The tail or train length is also a good point of comparison between male and female peacocks. 

Male peafowls usually have longer tails than females, which can grow up to 75 inches. It equates to around 60% of the bird’s total body length. The peahen’s tail, on the other hand, can only reach two to six inches. 

The beautiful tail feathers of a male peacock are also more magnificent looking than that of the peahen. 

In fact, the female peafowl doesn’t have any colorful feathers on their train at all. Nevertheless, the peahen’s short train can either be cream or brown-colored in contrast to the long tail feathers of the male peacock.

A male peacock can fan and rattle its colorful tail feathers during courtship. This is vital since it signals that they are ready to mate. 

They also do this when they feel like they’re under attack. They make their tail erect to serve as protection from predators, especially in the wild.

Check out this video of a male peacock forming a fan using his tail feathers:

Peacock Dance Display - Peacocks Opening Feathers HD & Bird Sound

Unfortunately, since peahens have shorter tails, they can’t fan them like the male peacocks. But they can still make it erect enough to signal danger to their peachicks or assert their dominance during territorial fights. 

Both the tail feathers of the male and female peacock serve a greater purpose than just aesthetics. Although the male’s iridescent feathers look more stunning, the female’s muted tail feathers are still a sight to behold.


Male and female peacock side profile

The biggest difference between a male and female peacock in terms of behavior is that the former is more solitary. The male bird loves to be on his own, while the peahen is almost always in groups.

During the breeding season, male peacocks do wing shaking and tail rattling so they can get the attention of female peacocks. They also fan their trains in a semi-circular shape, so they are observable by females even at far distances.

Peahens, as opposed to male peacocks, do not let their tail erect during mating. However, you’ll see them fighting over other females to get the best potential mate. 

After mating, female peacocks become all maternal — spending their days building nests, incubating eggs, and tending to both male and female peachicks. As for the males, they don’t have any parental involvement after mating.

Another thing you’ll notice is that male peacocks make loud horrendous sounds compared to peahens. 

They do this for the same reason they fan their long and colorful tails, to get the attention of the females. If their call is not loud enough, chances are, they won’t end up with a female peacock.

As for the peahens, they also make noises, but it isn’t to attract mates. They only make moderate sounds when they are calling for their peachicks.

As evident in the description above, the male and female peacock exhibits varying behavior and disposition depending on the season. 

Nevertheless, male and female peacocks don’t pose any danger to other animals or humans when treated correctly.

Frequently Asked Questions

Male and female peacocks playing

What Is a Peacock Female Called?

A female peacock is called a peahen, although we often address them as just “peacock” or “female peacock.” 

Whichever you use in addressing a female peafowl, it is considered acceptable. In fact, since the term peahen is not widely known, it is suggested to stick to female peacock to avoid confusion.

How Can You Tell If a Peacock Is Male or Female?

You can tell that a peacock is male or female mainly based on its color and tail length. Male peacocks often have blue ornate iridescent feathers and long tails, while female peacocks have dull brownish-gray feathers and short tails.

Male peacocks also have blue markings on their belly. Female peacocks, on the other hand, have white bellies.

Another point of comparison between male and female peacocks is their size. Male peacocks are often taller and heavier than female peacocks. 

Do Female Peacocks Spread Their Feathers?

Technically, female peacocks do not “spread their tail feathers” because their trains don’t have such. 

You will only see a female peacock with an erect tail when it is asserting dominance over other females. This often happens during mating season when they are fighting with other peahens over a potential mate. 

Can Female Peacocks Be Blue?

Female peacocks can’t be bright blue in color. They can only exhibit brown, cream, or gray feathers. 

The blue coloration can only be exhibited by male peacocks as it is biologically made to make them stand out and get the attention of the female peacock.

Do Male Peacocks Dance?

Yes, male peacocks most definitely dance. In fact, they show off their dancing skills to attract females during mating season. 

They fan their actual tail feathers and shimmy it to look like rippling water while swinging their relatively longer legs. It’s a strange part of their mating rituals, but it works every time.

While it is established that dancing is done to attract a mate, some Indians believe that this male peafowl behavior also signals that monsoon will follow. 

There is no scientific evidence for this, so it remains bizarre why it often rains after male Indian peacocks dance and spread their bright blue feathers.

What Are the Three Species of Peafowls?

The three species of peafowl are the Indian peacock, Congo peacock, and Green peafowl. Among the three, Indian peacocks are the most well-known. They are easily recognizable for their iridescent feathers that are blue in color.

Final Thoughts

Both male and female peafowls are surreal to look at. They are truly some of the coolest mysteries in this world!

There may be a few differences between the male and female peacocks, but all of their little quirks are justified. 

From colors to their beautiful tail feathers, each characteristic makes up for the appeal of both males and females — not to mention most are functional in terms of mating and protecting themselves from threats.

The next time you see a peacock, you won’t have difficulty identifying a male and a female. You’ll even enjoy watching them more now that you know every detail about their appearance and actions!

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