About

Most people are familiar with Indian peacocks with their iridescent blue and gold coloring and long, showy trains of feathers. However, there are three species of peafowl—Indian, green, and Congo.

Peafowl belong to the pheasant family, and the Congo peafowl is the only true pheasant native to Africa. The species is the national bird of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Although Congo peafowl can fly, they cannot do so for very long. Male peafowl are called “peacocks,” while females are referred to as “peahens.” Although less dramatic than their Indian cousins, they are nonetheless glamorous birds. Males have a white crest of head feathers with dark blue feathers on their body accented with patches of metallic green and purple. Females have a chestnut breast with iridescent bright green feathers on their back. Males fan their tail feathers to attract females, but these feathers are relatively short and lack the eyespots (ocelli) found on Indian peacock feathers. Courtship includes offering food to a potential mate. Once paired, they are monogamous.

A female will scrape out a hollow in the ground and lay two to four brown eggs. She will incubate the eggs for about 28 days while the male stands guard nearby. The chicks hatch in a well-developed state. Both parents help feed and raise the chicks, but the young are able to run and forage for food on their own within a few days of hatching. They fledge in about a month and are sexually mature by two years of age.

Congo peafowl populations are vulnerable. Their habitat is threatened by human activities such as mining, logging, cattle farming, and agriculture. Hunting and egg collection is also a significant threat.

Status

Listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Congo peafowl’s habitat is threatened by human activities such as mining, logging, and agriculture. Hunting also poses a significant threat to this species.

Habitat

The Congo peafowl is found only in the lowland rainforests of the Congo River basin in central Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Diet

Fruit, seeds, and small invertebrates.

Physical Characteristics

Male and female Congo peafowl are both about the size of a domestic chicken, but are colored quite differently. The male has a soft, velvety black crown with an erect crest about four inches high made of bristly white feathers. His body is covered with bluish-black feathers tinged with metallic green and purple. His gray face and red throat are bare. Unlike the better-known common peacock, the Congo peacock’s tail is short and lacks ocelli (“eyespots”). The Congo peahen has a bright chestnut breast and under arts, with a bright green iridescent back. Her head is covered with light brown feathers and sports a short, reddish-brown stand-up crest. Both males and females have gray legs, usually with long spurs. Body length is about two feet, and weight is up to three pounds. Males are larger than females. Lifespan is 15 to 20 years.