Can Peacocks Fly? (All Facts Explained)

Peacocks or peafowl are in the order Galliformes, which contains all large-bodied ground-dwelling birds. These birds are also in the family Phasianidae, which comprises all of the smaller, stout-bodied, ground-dwelling birds worldwide.

Many birds in this family are used as food worldwide. People raise them domestically, hunt them as wild game birds, or both. Peacocks are different from most of the birds in this family because many people in North America do not eat them or hunt them in the wild.

Like many of the birds in the Phasianidae family, peacocks can fly. While they cannot fly long distances or at high altitudes, peacocks can fly further than many other birds within the family. Peacocks, with their long, feathery train included, are one of the longest flying birds in the world.

can peacocks fly

How Far Can Peacocks Fly?

Peacocks cannot make a long, sustained flight like the Arctic Tern or the Bar-tailed Godwit. However, peacocks can fly for about one mile (1.6 kilometers) before they stop. Their heavy-set bodies are not streamlined and require a lot of energy to fly. 

Instead, peacocks are more suited to walking around on the ground. With their long train of feathers, males stroll and strut around far more often than they fly. Peacocks usually only fly to avoid predators, roost in trees, reach locations with food, and cross rivers.

How High Can Peacocks Fly?

Peafowl can use their strong legs to jump into the air to gain height for flying. Scientists have found that the long, elaborate train of feathers does not produce enough drag to negatively impact a peacock’s ability to take off or fly.

When peacocks take off in flight, they can reach heights up to 80 feet (25 meters), reaching high tree branches for nighttime roosting. Their ability to jump almost straight up into the air helps them avoid predation. 

The feathers of a peacock’s train can make them an easy target for predation. Luckily for them, if a predator catches the long train feathers, they pull out easily without dragging the bird back down. In this way, the train feathers act like the shedding tails of some lizards.

How Fast Can Peacocks Fly?

When peacocks fly, they can reach speeds between ten and fifteen miles per hour (16 to 24 kilometers per hour). This flight speed is slow and lumbering compared to most bird species, although the long trains of the males do not create much drag.

In comparison, the fastest bird, the peregrine falcon, reaches speeds up to 242 miles per hour (390 kilometers per hour). The average cruising speed for flying birds is 20 to 30 miles per hour (32 to 48 kilometers per hour).

Can Peacocks Run?

Peacocks prefer to keep their feet on the ground most of the time. They have strong legs that are adept at running and can reach speeds up to 10 miles per hour (16 kilometers per hour). While on the ground, these birds forage for food during the mornings and late afternoons.

When foraging for food, peacocks scratch around in the soil and brush, snatching insects, rodents, and small reptiles in quick movements. In addition, these omnivorous birds eat plant materials such as berries, fruits, vegetables, seeds, and grains.

Peacocks are strong birds that, when feeling threatened, can bound away in giant, flapping leaps to escape predators. Animals that prey on peacocks in their native range include jungle cats like leopards and tigers, stray dogs, and mongooses.

Peacock introductions onto North American farms and estates have opened them up to predation by animals like eagles, dogs, coyotes, wolves, mountain lions, and bobcats. 

Research has shown that the long train of feathers that peacocks grow during breeding season does not impact how much they can walk. Their feathery train is perfectly balanced and supported by their musculature, so they are not slow, easy prey during mating season. 

Can Peacocks Swim?

Peacocks cannot swim. They lack the webbed feet necessary for paddling around in the water. In addition, peacocks have heavy bodies that are not buoyant like the bodies of waterfowl, and their feathers are not waterproof. Their feathers lack the oils that repel water. 

While peacocks can float for a little while, their feathers will become waterlogged if they remain in the water for too long. Once that happens, they eventually drown, especially peacocks with long trains. They do not have tightly packed feathers with enough oil to repel water.

Peacocks can wade in the water. People have observed them eating small fish in the shallow waters of pond edges. 

Do Peacocks Fly South for the Winter?

Peacocks are native to warm, humid climates. These birds have not adapted to life in colder climates. However, peacocks were introduced worldwide, including in cold regions, because of the exotic pet trade.

Unfortunately, peacocks in colder climates do not migrate to warmer regions during winter. Peacocks living in colder parts of the world usually live on farms, where farmers can shelter their peacocks during the winter to keep these warm-weather birds from dying.

Also Read:

What is a Group of Peacocks Called?

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