Peacock Watching Tips - The Arboretum
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Peacock Watching Tips

6 Ways to Safely Watch Peacocks

  • Give peacocks and peahens room. For your safety, stay 10 feet away from peafowl. Peacocks (male peafowl) can be extremely aggressive and have very sharp talons. If peafowl approach you, back away, do not shoo, stomp, or kick peafowl.
  • Do not eat or have food around peafowl. Peafowl don’t need, or do well, with people food. They are omnivores and eat plants, flower, seeds, insects, and small lizards. Peacocks also get very aggressive when expecting food. Small children are often harassed because peafowl think they are going to feed them. Again, stay 10 feet away and keep all food stored away.
  • Do not disturb. Peafowl are fun to watch foraging for food, courting, cooling themselves, preening and watching for danger. Please don’t interrupt them as this can cause them to be aggressive.
  • Photograph from afar. Stay 10 feet away and use your camera to capture their beauty and behavior. Please, no photos with the peafowl. Getting a photo with a peacock is too risky and disruptive to the peafowl.
  • Be quiet and move slowly. Peafowl are wild animals and are disturbed by loud noises and human behavior. It is best not to startle them as they can move quickly and be aggressive.
  • Children should not be alone or near peafowl at any time. Make sure children are 10 feet away from peafowl and do not touch, chase, taunt or pull feathers.

What to look for

  • Early morning or late afternoon are best for viewing. During the heat of the day peafowl will hide and rest in the plants.
  • Look for the peahens (females) and peacocks (males). Females are brown in color with green necks and males have blue necks and long colorful trains. Can you see if the males are hanging out together? Do you see females are together? How many?
  • Watch for foraging behaviors. Can you see what the peafowl are eating? They can eat seeds, plants, insects, small lizards. Can you see how they use their feet?
  • What kinds of feathers do you see? There are many types of feathers on a peacock and peahen. See if you can spot the tail feather on a peacock and peahens. Do they both have a crest? Can you spot the tail feathers that hold up the “train” of the peacock? Can you see any down feathers?  Notice the ocelli (eye shape) on the peacock’s train. What color differences do you see between the peacocks and the peahens.
  • Can you spot a peacock lek? A male will stake out a spot (a lek) and call for females. Once a female arrives, the male stops calling and displays his tail and does a courtship dance. Can you see a peacock’s lek? Can you tell what territory it has?
  • Watch a peacock dancing. Males begin their courtship displays to attract the peahens by spreading their iridescent tail feathers in a fan shape and strutting back and forth. They will shake their feathers to produce a rattling noise. Can you see if this is getting the attention of the female? What colors do you see in the tail feathers?
  • Can you tell if a male is being territorial? Peacocks can be very aggressive with each other. Can you spot how males are looking or acting with each other? Be sure to stay a safe distance away.
  • Listen for peafowl cries. Peafowls make a variety of sounds. Some are to warn other peafowl about danger, and others to attract mates and stake out territories. Peacocks also make a special hoot just before mating. It is believed this signals to other females he has been deemed desirable! Can you hear any calls? What do they sound like?
  • Look for peafowl making a dust bath. Sometimes peafowl will find a place to dust bathe. This helps them keep their feathers clean. The dust absorbs excess oil to help keep the feathers from becoming matted.
  • Is that peafowl panting? When it’s hot, peafowl open their months and pant. They do not have sweat glands and pant to cool off by releasing heat through their respiratory tracts.
  • Peafowl flying. Don’t be alarmed if you see a peafowl fly. They do fly, mostly to roost up in the trees or to escape. They are spectacular to see.
  • At dusk or dawn, look for roosting peafowl. To escape from predators, peafowl roost at night. The large pine trees in the parking lot are a favorite. Each morning and evening you can see them fly down.
  • Can’t find a peafowl? Probably resting. During the heat of the day, peahens disappear and are hard to find. They are napping in the foliage. Peacocks can sometimes be seen in the shade of a tree.
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© 2023 Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Gardens

Phone: 626.821.3222

301 N. Baldwin Ave, Arcadia, CA, 91007