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Pavo cristatus (Common peacock) 

Makpou [Afrikaans]; Ipikoko [Xhosa]; Blauwe pauw [Dutch]; Paon bleu [French]; Pfau [German]; Pav„o [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Galliformes > Family: Phasianidae

Male Common peacock, Klein Pella (Northern Cape). [photo H. Robertson, Iziko ©]


Unmistakable on basis of large size and distinctive plumage. The blue plumage of male with its long iridescent-patterned tail that can be spread into a fan when displaying is particularly noticeable.

Distribution and habitat

Indigenous to Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka. Introduced to South Africa in 1968 and there are now naturalised populations on Robben Island, Cape Peninsula, Port Elizabeth and East London.  

Predators and parasites

None recorded in southern Africa. 


Ominivorous, diet includes seeds, leaves, fruit, invertebrates (insects, worms, centipedes, etc). Also known to eat lizards, small snakes and small mammals. 


  • Male has a harem of 2-5 females. He fans out his impressive tail in an elaborate courtship with a female. 
  • The nest consists of a shallow scrape in the ground lined with leaves and sticks and hidden away in thick vegetation. Also known to nest in buildings, hollows, and in large trees.
  • The female lays 3-12 eggs (usually 3-6) at two day intervals and starts incubating them after the fifth or sixth egg has been laid. She incubates them for 28-30 days. 
  • Chicks are active with 2 hours of hatching. The female teaches them to feed by pointing with her beak to food items. The young birds stay with the female for 5-6 months. 


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG (eds) 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town. 

 Text by Hamish Robertson