Peacocks are not rare birds to see. If you have been to south Asia and had a birding tour or safari adventure, most probably you may have seen a peacock in the wild. Or to the least, you may have seen one in a zoo.
I saw many peacocks in Sri Lanka. But all the common peacocks are either blue or green, right? Have you seen any other colored peacocks? I haven’t. I kept hearing about red color peacocks recently and wanted to find out whether they are real. Here is what I found.
So, “Are red peacocks real?” No. There are no records of a real red peacock to date. Though there are 15 color varieties of peacocks exist, red is not among those colors.
But, someone will tell, “wait… red peacock feathers are sold on Amazon! And, there is a video of a red peacock on youtube. What do you say about that?”
- Do Red Peacocks Really Exist? Watch the Video
- How Many Peacock Species Are There?
- Different Colors of Peacocks
- Where Can We See Different Color Peacocks?
- Do female peacocks have colorful feathers?
- Wrapping Up…
Do Red Peacocks Really Exist? Watch the Video
They look real. But, those videos are created using color filtering in video editing tools. You too can create a video of a peacock in any color you prefer. Not that hard. Even, I created the featured image of this post in the same manner.
What about red color peacock feathers selling in e-commerce stores or craft shops? Those are either dyed or bleached natural blue or green feathers to get different colors. So, those can not be taken as reliable sources to claim that there exist red color peacocks. Always, refer to reliable sources such as United Peafowl Organization.
Even though there are no records, we can not say we will never hear of the occurrence of a real red peacock in the future. Scientists and researchers are making new observations of new species, new varieties of species, etc., and new mutations are being developed by breeders; so I believe it can happen!
Color Pigments & Genetics
To examine the potential for red peacocks, it’s essential to understand the role of color pigments in determining the hues of peacock feathers.
The vibrant colors in peacock plumage are a result of specialized pigments and structural features in the feathers that create iridescence.
Typically, peacocks display an array of blues and greens, which are generated by pigments called carotenoids and melanin, coupled with microscopic structures that scatter light.
However, the possibility of a red peacock hinges on the presence of unique pigments capable of producing red hues, such as astaxanthin or canthaxanthin, along with the specific genetic mutations needed to express these pigments in their feathers.
While it may be a rarity, genetics and the ever-evolving research, the emergence of a red peacock remains a tantalizing possibility in the realm of ornithology and genetic engineering.
I hope you are curious to know about other color peacocks, let’s discuss further about them.
How Many Peacock Species Are There?
The common name used for the species is peafowl (for both males and females). And, male birds are called peacocks, females are called peahens, and baby peafowls are called peachicks.
Since peacocks are comparatively more glamorous, they are popular. Peacocks have a beautiful long upper tail covert (that is also called “train”) which is about 5-6 feet when fully grown. Even with bulky trains and larger bodies, they can fly.
The Indian peafowl is the most common and popular one. But, there are two other distinct species of peafowls; green peafowl, and Congo peafowl.
Indian Peafowl (Pavo cristatus )
Indian Peafowl is also called “Blue Peafowl” or “Common Peafowl”. They are native to the Indian subcontinent. And, due to their primary color, iridescent blue, they got the name blue peafowl.
But, peahens have body colors different from peacocks. Their upper neck color is iridescent green and has brown plumage. They have brown heads and white cheeks. And the main differentiating factor between peacocks and peahens is that Indian peahens do not have a train.
The courtship dance of peacocks is unique and fascinating too. They raise the long train and quiver to make a display to attract females.
Peafowls are omnivorous. They eat grains, seeds, fruits, and vegetables as well as insects, small snakes, frogs, and rodents. Now, even though they can be seen in many countries, originally, they are resident breeders in the lowlands of India and Sri Lanka. And, it is the national bird of India.
Green Peafowl (Pavo muticus)
Another name used for green peafowls is “Indonesian Peafowl”. It is the national bird of Myanmar. Green peafowl is also a species in the Asian region, native to Southeast Asia.
Preferred habitats of green peafowls are tropical and subtropical forests and less frequently around grasslands, savannas, scrub, and farmland edges.
Converse to Indian peafowl, both green peacock and peahen look similar in appearance. They both have iridescent green necks and breasts. Green peacock has a long train while peahen too has a short train that extends to cover the tail barely. In the non-breeding season, the train of green peacocks is molted and that made it difficult to differentiate it from peahens.
Green peafowl has three similar subspecies; Java peafowl, Indo-Chinese peafowl, and Burmese peafowl. And they are considered endangered since 2009 on IUCN Red List since their number has decreased due to hunting and loss of habitats.
Congo Peafowl (Afropavo congensis)
Congo peafowls are native to Africa (mainly in Congo Basin). They are also called “African peafowl”.
Congo peafowls are somewhat different from the other two species. Even though they are also large in size, they look less glamorous when compared to the other two species. Congo peafowls lack the long train that their Asian counterparts have.
Congo peacocks have distinctive red throat skin and white crest. Their breasts and lower parts are iridescent blue and their feathers have a mix of green, blue, and violet. However, Congo peahens have brown feathers and the lower body is black and decorated with green flecks.
Similar to other species, Congo peafowls are also omnivores and mainly eat fruits and insects. Their main habitats are the lowland forests of Congo. They are a rare species and considered vulnerable in IUCN Red List.
Different Colors of Peacocks
The colors of feathers are one of the most prominent features of peacocks. There are 15 color varieties of peafowls, even though only three species are there. The main reasons for having many different color varieties are the genetic mutation of naturally occurring species and the breeding of different varieties of peacocks in the pet trade.
When we say the color of a peacock, most often we refer to the color of the neck of the bird. Hence, even though plumage has a mix of many colors, neck color is used for referring.
Based on that classification, all recognized naturally occurring species are falling into two colors, blue and green. Additionally, it has been identified that there are thirteen other possible colors of peacocks. All these other color peacocks are mutations of the Indian peafowl.
Here are all 15 color peacocks; Blue, Green, Purple, Peach, White, Cameo, Charcoal, Opal, Buford bronze, Midnight, Jade, Taupe, Hazel, Indigo, and Sonja’s Violeta.
Even though the color is used to differentiate different peacock varieties, it is not the only factor that considers. The body pattern (patterns in their plumage) of peafowls is also quite fascinating. It is also used as one of the factors to define varieties. There are five possible patterns have been identified among peacocks.
So, with three species of peafowls, and with 15 different colors, and 5 body patterns, there are many varieties have been listed. According to the latest published list that includes the approved list of peafowls by the United Peafowl Organization (UPO), there are 225 varieties of peafowls.
White Peacocks (Albino Peacocks)
White is included in the above-listed 15 colors. In addition to occurring due to farm breeding, white peacocks can also be naturally occurring even though they are extremely rare.
Usually, they are called albino due to having entirely white feathers. However, animals that have albinism cognition resulted due to a reduction in the production of melanin only. Hence, those animals can be either white or even pale yellow in color. Hence, the accurate condition of white peacocks is called Leucism.
And, sometimes albino animals get red eyes and white skin too. But it is not present in all occurrences. Even these conditions can be passed on to the next generation if albino peafowls mate, they are extremely rare.
Where Can We See Different Color Peacocks?
Blue peafowl is the most common species that you will see without much difficulty if you do birding in India or in Sri Lanka. I have seen quite a lot of them in Sri Lanka. But green peafowls and Congo peafowls are less common due to low numbers and scattered habitats. So, they are somewhat rare to be seen.
When it comes to any other color peacocks which are genetic mutations, it is extremely rare to see them. This is because the probability of occurring a genetic mutation of peafowl is very less (can be less than 1 to million). And some of the varieties listed are yet to be confirmed.
Hence, it is nearly impossible to see any of those different colored peacocks in the wild. Even you may not see them in zoos. But if you are really into seeing one of them, my recommendation is to check in breeding farms.
Do female peacocks have colorful feathers?
Similar to peacocks, peahens too are colorful. However, peacocks overshadow peahens due to their more elegant appearance. Therefore, some are curious and ask, “do female peafowls colorful like peacocks?
In order to get a good understanding about the similarities and differences, peacocks and peahens of three different species are compared below.
Peacock Vs Peahen – Indian Peafowl
|Length||84 – 96 inches (including train)||About 37 inches|
|Color (neck color)||Blue||Green|
|Body color||Head and neck feathers are short and curled and the crown is metallic blue.||The head is reddish-brown. The lower neck is metallic green and breast is dark brown shined with green.|
|Crest||Fan-shaped crest. Black shafts end with bluish-green webbing||Same as males but the edges are green|
|Train||It is the upper tail covert.||Do not have a train|
|Tail||Dark brown||Dark brown|
Peacock Vs Peahen – Green Peafowl
|Length||72 – 120 inches (including train)||39 – 45 inches|
|Color (neck color)||Green||Green|
|Body color||Emerald green on head and neck feathers.||Dull green (slight mix of brown) on head and body.|
|Crest||Thinner and taller shafted crest||Wider shafted crest|
|Train||It is the upper tail covert. However, it is molted in the non-breeding season.||Have short trains that extend just beyond the tail|
Peacock Vs Peahen – Congo Peafowl
|Length||25 – 28 inches||24 – 25 inches|
|Color (neck color)||Deep blue mixed with green.||Chestnut|
|Body color||They have a red bare skin throat and bronze-green body with black lower parts.||It has brown feathers and a its black lower body is decorated with green flecks. It has a metallic green back|
|Crest||Crest has two parts. The front part consists of long white bristles. The back part is short and black in color.||It has short reddish brown chestnut feathers.|
|Train||Do not have a train like in Asian counterparts.||Do not have a train|
|Tail||Black tail with blue and green tips.||Black tail with green tip|
So, now it is clear that both peacocks and peahens are colorful. But, since peahens lack the main attractive feature of the peacock which is the long train (upper tail coverts). Even though green peahens possess a short train it does make them comparable to peacocks. Peahens of other species do not have it.
Do red peacocks exist? Are they real? Some curiously ask those questions since there are videos and images of red peacocks and several other colors (such as pink) shared online.
There is no evidence to claim the existence of a red peacock. However, there are 15 color varieties of peacocks identified to date. Those colors are blue, green, purple, peach, white, cameo, charcoal, opal, buford bronze, midnight, jade, taupe, hazel, indigo, and sonja’s violeta.
Blue and green are the colors of naturally occurring three species of peafowls; Indian peafowl, green peafowl, and Congo peafowl. The other 13 are genetic mutations of Indian peafowl.
So, what are those videos of red peacocks on youtube? Peacocks can be colored with any color you prefer in videos by using color filtering techniques. Photos also can be edited in that manner. Hence, those can not take as solid evidence.
Undoubtedly, those colorful peacocks are a sight to see. But they are extremely rare. If you are really interested in seeing them, my recommendation is to check in peacock breeding centers.
And, if you a birder and peacocks are on your list of birds to be seen (in real), the best country to visit is Sri Lanka to see them in their natural habitats. And Sri Lanka is one of the best tourist destinations as well! So, you will enjoy the tour.