The peafowl, also known as a peacock, is a medium-sized bird that’s closely related to a pheasant. Peacocks are native to the warm environments of the Southern Hemisphere and are believed to have originated in Asia, but they’re now found in parts of Africa and Australia.
The peafowl comes in Indian peacock, Africa Congo peacock, and green peacock varieties. All peacocks are known for beautiful, colorful plumage in males, though the females are a drab brown. They can live up to 20 years in the wild, but they face threats from smuggling, hunting, poaching, predation, and habitat loss.
What’s the Average Lifespan of a Peacock?
In the wild, peacocks can live around 20 years. In captivity, they can live as long as 40 to 50 years.
Why Do Some Peacocks Live Longer Than Others?
1. Peacock Nutrition
Like other birds, peacocks will eat almost anything they come across. These birds are healthiest with solid nutrition that contains a lot of protein, grains, green vegetables, seeds, chicken feed, and bugs, worms, and grubs. Peacocks also do well on game bird feed mix.
2. Peacock Environment and Conditions
In the wild, peacocks live in flocks of 10 or more individuals. In captive environments, peacocks get along with other peacocks and fowl like chickens and turkeys. Peacocks shouldn’t be kept alone since they thrive on communal relationships. Male peacocks can be territorial, however, so it’s best to only keep one male and a bunch of females.
3. Peacock Shelter
Peacocks are happiest when they have space to roam. They do well in rural settings, though pens can keep them from falling victim to predators. With pens or fencing, peacocks should have plenty of space to wander and avoid the stress of overcrowding or physical injury. Free-range peacocks need shelter to weather the elements, which only need to be large enough for the bird to stand and turn around. Peacocks shouldn’t be enclosed within a shelter, however—they should only be available to provide protection from the weather as needed.
4. Peacock Size
A bird’s lifespan is impacted by its body mass. Large species, such as peacocks, won’t live as long as smaller species. The expected lifespan for a peacock is extended in captivity, however, due to protection from external threats like predators and food shortages.
5. Peacock Sex
Most birds show little difference in the lifespan between sexes, including the peacock. While some species have extraordinarily long-lived males in the wild, a peacock doesn’t demonstrate any notable differences between the males and females, either in captivity or the wild.
6. Peacock Genes
Peacocks aren’t subject to as much selective breeding as other species. In the wild, mating occurs when the females select males with elaborate trains. Despite this, there’s little indication that the condition of the train correlates with positive genetic health traits. Peacocks are susceptible to Marek’s disease, however, which is a disorder caused by the herpes virus. Marek’s disease is more common in white peafowl and causes inflammation and tumors in the nerves, spinal column, and brain. Eventually, birds become paralyzed and die of starvation.
7. Peacock Healthcare
Peacocks are healthiest with regular veterinary care and may live into their 30s or later in captivity. Captive peacocks should be wormed and treated for coccidia by a qualified avian vet. Peacocks may also develop feather lice and mites, histomoniasis, and bacterial infections, which can be treated by a vet.
8. Peacock Threats
Peacocks are threatened in the wild due to predation, smuggling, hunting, poaching, and predation. Coveted for their beauty, they’re often taken from the wild for the pet trade and entertainment industry. The poaching of peacocks for their feathers is a major contributor to the population decline.
Peacocks also face habitat loss from harvesting, animal agriculture, and mining, as well as food shortages from the displacement of other species. The African Congo peafowl is a vulnerable species, and the green peafowl is endangered.
In captivity, a peacock’s main threats are natural predators, such as dogs, wolves, wildcats, coyotes, foxes, and other animals.
The 4 Life Stages of a Peacock
Once mating occurs, a peahen (female peacock) will lay a clutch of three to six eggs. These eggs are incubated for 29 days without the male.
Newly hatched chicks are able to fly within a few days of hatching. Chicks stay with the peahen for a few months to learn how to care for their feathers, communicate with others, and how to feed.
Peacocks reach near-full growth in a year. Two-year-old peacocks resemble adult males, but they don’t yet have the full train or the iconic “eyes” on the tail feathers. Peacocks reach sexual maturity at around three years old.
Peahens reach sexual maturity sooner than males at around one year old. Some peahens will mate during this period, while others wait until the following year.
Peacocks don’t have any notable conditions that develop later in their senior years. Older peacocks should be monitored by an avian vet to identify problems early on, however.
How To Tell Your Peacock’s Age
At 12 months old, male peacocks will have little to no eye tail feathers. As they approach 2 years, they will begin to develop a few eye feathers. The full set of eye feathers will show up between 2-3 years.
Once male peacocks have fully developed feathers, it becomes more difficult to tell their age. They don’t show clear signs of aging like other animals, so most keepers rely on banding at an early age to track their years. Females have the same brown color throughout their lives, so they’re impossible to age once they reach early adulthood.
Peacocks are long-lived animals, but they don’t have the near-century lifespans common with other exotic birds. In the wild, peacocks can live up to 20 years, but they face threats like habitat loss, predation, food shortages, poaching, and hunting. In captivity, peacocks can thrive and live up to 30 years or more with proper shelter, warmth, and veterinary care.
Featured Image Credit: Cock-Robin, Pixabay