Peacocks are popular for their beauty. Iridescent colors, long beautiful trains, and fascinating courtship dance are all eye-catching. Hence, we tend to go close to them if possible.
But, are they really friendly or aggressive toward humans? To be clear on the topic, I dig deep to find out whether peacocks attack humans or not. Here is what I found.
So, “do peacocks attack humans?”
Yes. Peacocks attack humans only when they have a good reason to do so. Generally, they choose flight over fight since a human is about several times larger in size than them.
But, they are very territorial in the breeding season and they will attack to protect their territory, eggs, or young if a human or any other animal becomes a threat.
Even though we rarely hear peacocks attack humans, when they do attack, it can cause severe injuries such as damage to an eye or a face wound that needs several stitches.
Are peacocks mean? (Are they aggressive?)
Peacocks are not mean birds. Their behavior is not aggressive in general. Similar to many animals, they only act aggressively when it is really essential. Mostly, peacocks choose to fly away when they are threatened, especially by a larger animal.
So, if you try to approach a wild peacock, most probably they will quickly fly away, even before you get much closer. That is why you may not hear any wild peacock attacks on humans.
But, you may have seen peacocks just walk along with people freely in zoos or farms. That is because once they adjust to the environment and if humans are part of that environment, they tend to accept and ignore their presence. However, if you observe well, you can see they still prefer their own space and keep their distance when needed.
If peacocks are that accommodating, can they be dangerous to humans at all? Yes. peacocks become aggressive to humans (or any other animals) when threatened or irritated. You can see their aggressive behavior mostly during the breeding season.
Why do peacocks become aggressive?
There are several reasons for peacocks to become aggressive.
- When protecting their territory: Since they are territorial birds, they can be really aggressive if anyone enters their territory. Similar to many other animals, entering their territory is considered an invasion and challenge by peacocks. Hence, they tend to attack immediately.
- When in the mating season: We like the fascinating peacock’s courtship dance that it does by raising beautiful long tail feathers like a fan. But during the mating season, peacocks can be really aggressive when someone disturbs them when looking for a mate.
- When protecting nests: If peacocks feel that their eggs or young are in danger, they will attack any perceived threat – including humans. Most often, peahens will attack if they feel their chicks are threatened. While this behavior may seem dangerous, it’s important to remember that peafowls are just doing what they need to do to protect their young.
Do peacocks bite when they attack?
Obviously, when birds catch their prey or fight with predators, they use their beaks. So, yes, peacocks can bite when they attack.
Peacocks have sharp beaks that they use to peck at their prey. If a peacock feels threatened or is angry, it may use its beak to deliver a painful bite to a human.
Often this question is commonly asked by those who are thinking about keeping a peacock as a pet. Of course, not all peacocks are aggressive and not all of them will bite if they’re feeling threatened.
But it’s important to be aware of the potential for aggression when keeping a peacock as a pet. So, when it comes to aggression, peacocks will not treat differently to their threat even if it is their owner.
Following are several reported cases of peacock attacks.
- 2021 – Four kids were attacked by a peacock and one got injured at Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City, Utah.
- 2016 – a two-year-old boy was attacked and injured by a peacock at a park in Orlando, Florida. The peacock has jumped onto the boy’s head and injured his forehead and has bearly missed the eye with the talon.
- 2013 – an aggressive peacock attacked a two-year-old girl leaving her with a gash on her head that needed stitches.
All these reported attacks have happened in zoos or parks where peacocks are freely walking around. And, mostly, they have attacked kids. But, it does not mean peacocks would not attack adults.
Peacocks may tend to attack kids more since kids are equal or smaller in size than peacocks and would seem like a threat due to their playful behavior.
Can a peacock kill a human (How much damage can they do)?
In order to understand how much damage a peacock can do to a human if they attack, we need to look at how and where they attack.
Firstly, when peacocks attack, they use their beaks to peck and claws to grab. But, they are quite different from the talons and beaks of birds of prey.
- Beaks of peacocks: Peacocks have short, curved beaks that are perfect for pulling insects and other small prey out of the ground. However, their beaks are sharp and strong enough to peck and severely harm a human when they attack for self-defense.
- Claws: Peacocks do have claws that help them to perch in branches of trees or grab their food. But their claws are comparatively blunt as they walk on the ground. And they are not strong and sharp, similar to the talons of birds of prey. Birds of prey such as eagles or owls use their hooked talons to hunt their prey with strongholds that pierce into flesh.
And, level of damage caused due to the peacock attack also depends on where on the body they attacked. Mostly, we hear scratches or wounds on the heads of people who were attacked.
If they peck an eye or if a claw hits an eye when landing for the attack, the harm can be severe. Even, their sharp beak can pierce through deep if it hits soft areas such as the neck or face.
Kids are more vulnerable to peacock attacks than adults due to their small body size. And, peacocks can do more harm to them as well.
So, given all the above facts, peacocks are able to kill a human if they really aggressively attack and cause severe injuries to the eyes, ears, face, head, or neck of the person.
But, deaths due to peacock attacks are extremely rare. Here is one incident of a peacock attack that caused the death of its master in Thailand.
What to do if a peacock attacks you
The best thing to do first is to try to avoid the attack before it happens. So, how can you sense the peacock attack?
Unlike some birds such as owls who usually attack silently, peacocks warn their threat before attacking. One thing they do before attacking is puff up and spread their trains or tail feathers to scare their predators.
They will do this several times before they start attacking. And also they squark before attacking. So, when you see these signals, it’s time to protect yourself. Do the following things to avoid getting injured if you face a peacock attack.
- You need to avoid making eye contact with the peacock. If you make eye contact, they will take it as a challenge and it will only agitate the bird more.
- Then, you need to calmly move away from the peacock. When you do that, keep your body relaxed and avoid any sudden movements.
- It is better if you can cover yourself with something that can be used as a shield such as an umbrella, bag, or jacket.
- If possible, try to put something between you and the peacock, like a tree or a fence.
- And, you need to try and keep your cool and remain calm throughout the ordeal.
- Even after all the above effort, still, you have to face the attack, you need to act quickly and protect your eyes, face, and head either covering from your hands or something that you have with you.
- Since they may attack several times, you need to move away from them while protecting yourself.
- And, if you get any scratches or other injuries, seek medical attention immediately.
Peacocks are not naturally aggressive birds. But, they are not so friendly either. If someone pushes their limits, they do not hesitate to attack even a larger predator than them.
So, do peacocks attack humans? Yes. When they are agitated or threatened by humans, they attack. Most of these attacks can happen during their breeding season since they are very much territorial and protective during that period.
There are several reported cases of peacock attacks on kids in zoos and parks that even caused injuries. Due to their sharp beaks and claws, their attacks can result in severe injuries that can lead to even death.
Hence, keeping a safe distance from them is the wisest thing to do to avoid unnecessary trouble. Unfortunately, if you have to face such a situation, avoid making eye contact and slowly move away from them while covering yourself, especially your face and head.
Finally, keep in mind that peacocks are fascinating beautiful birds that prefer their space and try to stay away from trouble. They will not choose to attack a human unless they do not see any other option. Hence, let’s make sure to watch their beauty without disturbing them.