If birds had a beauty contest, it would be hard to beat the peacock. Males of the species have iridescent blue and green feathers. They can spread their tail feathers out in a gorgeous fan five feet tall. It’s truly an awe-inspiring sight. Now when it comes to singing, that’s another story. Peacocks make an ear-splitting shriek that sounds like someone’s dying. But in the visual department, they win. Can you imagine what it would look like to see a whole group of peacocks strutting their stuff? What is a group of peacocks called, anyway? As it turns out, that’s not an easy question to answer, because there are LOTS of different names for groups of peacocks. Let’s look at them.
- There are separate terms for male and female peafowl and their babies.
- Peafowl come in three different species that have some clear and distinct differences.
- People have come up with a long list of names for a group of peafowl and there’s no one right answer. You can pick the term you like best.
- Keeping peafowl as pets is possible, but your locality may have rules against it.
- The main reasons not to keep them is that they make unpleasant loud noises and they fly away if not properly contained in a large enclosed aviary.
- You can still celebrate peacocks all year round, but especially on National Peacock Day, March 25 every year.
The Three Species of Peacocks
We know the picture you have in your mind when we say the word “peacock.” That’s just one of the three species, though, and note that the fancy ones are all males. They use them for mating displays and intimidating rivals and predators with all those fake “eyes” on their tales. The females have dull brown and white feathers that help them stay camouflaged while they’re sitting on eggs. Below are the three types of peacocks in the world:
The Indian Peacock
These were formerly called “common” peacocks, although they look anything but common. This variety has bright metallic blue feathers on its body, fading into green tail feathers with “eye”-like shapes at the end of each feather. As the feathers grow out, it gives the appearance of eyes scattered all over the fan of their tail.
The Green Peacock
Green peacocks look just like Indian peacocks with the one difference that their bodies are mainly green instead of blue, although there’s subtle shades of blue and teal on their heads and the underside of their necks. Their tail feathers also have more of a bronze cast to them.
The Congo Peacock (or Peafowl)
The Congo peacock is also often called the Congo peafowl, which, when you think about it, is the inclusive term the others ought to use too. Congo peafowl don’t have the long tail feathers of their cousins but they do have some beautiful blue and red feathers mixed into their overall dark coloration. They’re really quite beautiful in their own way, sort of like really fancy high-class chickens.
Bonus: The Albino Peacock
This isn’t a separate species, but a rare condition that affects many species, including human beings, in which the body does not produce the color that is characteristic of that species. It’s not that they are white, but they have an absence of color. It’s really beautiful. Here’s a photo:
Names of Individual Peacocks
When we’re talking about individual birds of this species, these are the terms to use:
- Peacock – a male
- Peahen – a female
- Peachick – a baby
- Peafowl – a collective word for any and all of the other three.
Names for Groups of Peacocks
Here’s the thing. There aren’t animal name police going around enforcing just one name for groups of animals. This means for some species we have more than one name for a group of them. And it seems like a species as beautiful and majestic as the peacock has inspired a lot of creativity among people who write and talk about them. Here are some of the names that have been used for groups of peacocks, and why each might be appropriate for them:
- An ostentation – This means a “showy display” – obviously appropriate!
- A pride – Male peacocks like to strut around proudly, showing off their feathers to impress females.
- A muster – This term means a gathering of troops for battle or inspection. You could imagine peacocks as soldiers in their finest dress uniforms, waiting to pass inspection.
- A lek – A lek is an arena where male birds compete in courtship displays. This is why a group of them is also sometimes called a “lek.”
- A bawl – To bawl in this sense means to call out in a loud and noisy way. During courtship, male peacocks make loud hooting and cawing sounds.
- A cluster – Peacocks congregate together during mating season, and all year long they roost close together, so this leads to the term a “cluster” of peacocks.
- A party – Considering how flamboyant peacocks look, how they gather in clusters, and bawl their heads off, it looks like they’re having the party of their lives.
- A pulchritude – The word “pulchritude” is a rather archaic term that means “beauty.” Clearly appropriate for the peacock.
- A bevy – A bevy is a large group of things, and its a term that is also used for groups of quail and larks. And for peacocks.
- A pstemtatopm – It’s not clear what this word means or even how to pronounce it. The only thing we know is that this term might have gotten started in New Zealand.
- A harem – This is a term used only for a group of peahens. Males often mate with more than one female, so it is not uncommon to see a male followed by 3-5 mates, his harem.
Can You Keep Your Own Ostentation?
By now you might be wondering if you could create your own ostentation of real live peacocks in your backyard so that you can admire their beauty and use all these different terms and correct people who call a peahen a peacock. They are not an endangered species, and they have been kept for centuries on wealthy estates around the world as display animals. They do well in temperate and warm climates. You’ll have to check with your locality to see what the rules are for keeping peafowl, but here are some things to consider. They’re docile and pretty easy to care for, and of course gorgeous to look at. But they do need a lot of space. They can fly, so you’ll have to put up a super tall fence or a covered aviary so they can stretch their wings without escaping. And peafowl are extremely loud and the sounds they make are harsh and piercing to the human ear. You won’t enjoy that and neither will your neighbors.
Celebrate National Peacock Day
Even though most people won’t want to keep peacocks as pets, that doesn’t mean you can’t admire them from afar and celebrate their beauty in your daily life. A good day to do this is National Peacock Day, which happens every year on March 25. Check out this article for fun ways to celebrate: National Peacock Day: March 25 (Plus 25 Fun Ways to Celebrate!)