Peacocks are a guest favorite the zoo. Some of the most impressive photos posted by guests our Facebook and Twitter pages are close-ups of these beautiful birds. Here’s the 101 on our shy, feathered friends:
First, about half of them aren’t technically peacocks Only the males are called peacocks. The females are called peahens, and babies are called pea chicks. Collectively, we call them peafowl. And if you really want to get technical, their scientific name is Pavo cristatus.
Now that we have the terminology straight…how can we tell them apart? It’s easy: The males have a big, fancy train of tail feathers that they use to impress the females. Males can be brightly-colored or all-white. Females are either brown or all-white.
Guests sometimes ask whether the white peafowl are albino, but they’re not. Zoo keeper Helena Lacey works with the peafowl, and notes that some of them have a “genetic color mutation” that causes the all-white coloring, but this is different from the medical condition albinism.
Now for the big question…Can peafowl fly ?
Many zoo visitors are surprised to learn that these large birds can fly. This is most obvious at night, when they fly up to roost in trees for safety from predators. But the peafowl are not likely to fly away from the zoo – after all, their food, caregivers, and familiar surroundings are all right here!
Although they roam freely and may not seem like an “exhibit animal,” the zoo’s peafowl are an important part of our collection. They receive excellent care just like the other animals, including a nutritious diet, shelter in the winter, and yearly checkups from our vet staff. The next time you see a peacock or peahen at the zoo, approach carefully and quietly – you might end up with a great photo and memory to share!