Peacocks and peahens are both peafowls. They are part of the Phasianidae family, which also includes pheasants, quail, partridges, and turkeys. One of the most distinguishing factors between these two animals is that peacocks are male peafowls while peahens are female peafowls.
Though they may seem similar, there are many distinct differences to tell them both apart.
Their body colors are very different. Peacocks tend to be a beautiful shade of blue-green with lots of overlapping feathers. The peacock’s fan-shaped tail is decorated with eyespots that give it its characteristic look. Peahens, on the other hand, are usually brown or tan in color and don’t have as many feathers as peacocks. Peahens also have shorter tails than peacocks, and their tail feathers are usually brown or gray in color.
The reason peacocks have better-looking tail feathers than peahens is that the former need their tails to attract mates, while the latter does not need to impress males.
Peacocks are also generally larger than peahens. For example, peacocks can grow up to 1m to 3 m in length, depending on the species, while most peahens only reach a length of 1 to 1.1 m.
In addition to their physical differences, peacocks and peahens have different behavioral tendencies as well.
Peacocks are much more vocal than peahens—often making loud calls during mating season or when they’re protecting their territory. Peahens, on the other hand, are quieter in comparison.
Peafowls are polygamous meaning they mate with multiple partners at a time. Because of this, females are usually the ones that choose their mates based on strong genes and lesser imperfections.
Peacocks and peahens lay eggs just like other birds, but peacocks do not help any of their mates and their eggs during the incubation period, leaving the peahens alone.
Though peahens and peacocks may look similar, they have many distinct physical and behavioral differences. Some of these include body color, vocalization patterns, mating behaviors, and size. So the next time you see a beautiful blue-green peacock with a brilliant fan-shaped tail, don’t assume it’s a peahen—you may be surprised to find out that it’s the male of the species!