Why Do Peacocks Spread Their Feathers? (EXPLAINED)

Peacocks are notorious for their brilliant plumage and loud screech. While most people love watching the birds as they blossom, they are others who consider them a nuisance. 

Besides their brightness, colorful eyespots, and loud screams, you must have also discovered that they spread their feathers. But what exactly is the reason for this behavior? 

Why Do Peacocks Spread Their Feathers

Why Do Peacocks Spread Their Feathers?

Peacocks spread their feathers primarily as part of their courtship ritual to attract potential mates. They also use it for communication and to scare predators. The larger and more vibrant the plumage, the more desirable the peacock appears to potential mates. 

Why Do Peacocks Have Eyes on Their Feathers?

Also known as “ocelli,” the eyespots on a peacock’s feathers are always a beautiful sight. Studies show that they play a crucial role in courtship display or sexual selection. 

According to previous studies, when a peacock spreads its tail feathers, the eyespots create an optical illusion that catches the attention of peahens. Specifically, it gives the impression of many large penetrating eyes, which dazzles the peafowls. 

The main rationale behind this is to attract mating partners. 

But besides attracting a mate, a peacock may also display these penetrating eyes to scare away predators. 

Why Do Peacocks Show Their Feathers to Humans?

Peacocks do not only display their feathers to peahens; they may also do so to humans. This typically happens when they associate humans with food. 

Although humans aren’t potential mates, the peacocks may behave this way due to habituation, or they may have been conditioned to do so. They may have learned that displaying their feathers draws attention, and in some cases, they may be hoping to receive food from you.  

Besides humans, peacocks also display their feathers to other animals, such as pigs and poultry, as well as inanimate objects (e.g. fire hydrants). 

More on Habituation 

Peacocks living in areas frequented by humans can become habituated to human presence over time. Habituation occurs when animals get used to the presence of humans or other stimuli in their environment. 

If peacocks are regularly exposed to humans and have positive experiences with them, they may associate human presence with the availability of food or other rewards. As a result, they might instinctively display their feathers as a learned behavior with the hope of being fed food by humans.  

When Do Peacocks Spread Their Feathers?

Peacocks typically spread their feathers during spring and early summer when they are mating. They may also spread them during other times as part of their social interactions or when they feel threatened.

Do Peacocks Lose Their Feathers?

Yes, peacocks do lose their feathers. Like most birds, peafowl undergo molting, a natural process of shedding old feathers and growing new ones. 

Molting typically occurs after the mating season and is vital for the peacock’s overall health and quality of the feathers. During molting, the peacock may appear less vibrant and avoid displaying its feathers until the new ones have fully grown.

Do Female Peacocks Spread Their Feathers?

Female peafowl, known as peahens, lack the extravagant plumage of the males. In fact, their feathers serve a different purpose. 

Peahens rarely spread their feathers in the same manner as peacocks during courtship. Their role in the mating ritual involves observing the peacock’s display and selecting a mate. They may spread their feathers in response to a male to show they have chosen him. 

How to Make a Peacock Spread Its Feathers?

It’s not a good idea to try to make a peacock spread its feathers, as you would be stressing it. 

As earlier indicated, peacocks typically spread their feathers to attract a potential mate when they feel threatened or when the clouds gather for a rain. They may also spread them on certain occasions for no specific reason. 

This means you will need to replicate these conditions if you want to see them spread their feathers. Unfortunately, you can’t do this without causing the bird to feel stressed. 

FAQs: Peacocks And Their Feathers

When Do Peacocks Shed Their Feathers?

Peacocks typically begin their molting process after the mating season, around late summer to early autumn. 

Why Do Peacocks Shake Their Feathers?

Peacocks may shake their feathers for grooming purposes to get rid of dirt and debris as well as loose feathers.  

What Do Peacocks Do With Their Body Feathers?

Aside from their primary role in courtship displays, peacock feathers also help to keep their bodies insulated. This way, they are able to regulate their body temperature. 

Do Peacocks Have Red Feathers?

Peacock feathers are typically blue-green; they do not have red feathers. The color of the feathers is as a result of the pigment they contain. Red is not produced by any of the pigments in peacocks (melanin or carotenoids). 

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