Because of their truly unique coloration and feather shape, there are very few birds similar to the majestic peacock.
The word ‘peacock’ refers to the males, while ‘peahens’ refers to the females of the species peafowl. There are three main species of peafowl – Indian, green, and Congo peafowl.
In this article, we’ll be comparing 7 birds like peacocks.
- Ocellated Turkeys
- Long-tailed Widowbird
- Greater Bird-of-Paradise
- Arfak Astrapias
Note: The birds are ranked in no particular order.
Scientific name (tribe): Phasianini
Pheasants are probably the most similar birds to peacocks – this isn’t that odd, though, as pheasants are actually related to peacocks.
The most obvious similarity the two share is the coloring. With both groups of animals, the male develops incredible coloring in order to impress the females, but also to recognize one another.
Depending on the exact pheasant species, there are many different color variations. Ruffed pheasants, for example, develop a striking mix of colors.
Pheasants are much smaller than peafowl, however, and only a few pheasant species develop a bushy, circular tail.
Scientific name (genus): Gallus
A genus very similar to pheasants, these birds are a bit smaller in comparison.
As is with peacocks, the males develop very colorful plumage, while females are more camouflaged. Males are, in fact, very reminiscent of domestic roosters, albeit with more colorful plumage.
Males are also significantly larger than females, while their tails are very long with arching feathers that give off a different-colored glow, depending on lighting and angle.
3. Ocellated Turkeys
Scientific name (genus): Meleagris ocellata
The natural habitat of this turkey is restricted to Yucatan (Mexico), Belize, and Guatemala. There, they develop incredible iridescent coloring and a circular, bushy tail – very similar to that of a peacock.
However, ocellated turkeys are easy to tell apart as they don’t have extremely long tails as peacocks do, and their feathers aren’t marked with spots.
Males use their tails to attract females, while they also dance around the female to draw attention to themselves.
This behavior is very similar to that of the wild turkey found in North America, but wild turkeys are not colorful birds and are easily told apart from peacocks.
4. Long-tailed Widowbird
Scientific name: Euplectes progne
Although they’re small birds and aren’t in any way comparable to peacocks when it comes to their size, these widowbirds have extremely long tails (hence the name).
Males are entirely black with orange shoulders, while females have a brown, camouflaged coloration.
Although it’s not fully known why (and this problem was pondered on by Charles Darwin himself in the book The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex), females are more attracted to males with longer tails and more brightly colored shoulders.
This is, however, detrimental to males, as they’re easier to spot and catch. It is presumed that females simply prefer larger males.
5. Greater Bird-of-Paradise
Scientific name: Paradisaea apoda
Although many birds from the bird-of-paradise family share characteristics with peacocks, the greater bird-of-paradise is probably the most similar one.
The largest member of its family, growing up to 17 inches (without the tail), these bids develop majestic plumage with an iridescent glow.
Sexual dimorphism is apparent, as the females don’t have plumage that’s just as colorful. Males use this plumage to improve their chances during breeding selection – females choose their mate based on apparent fitness.
During courtship, a series of dances and calls occur until the female allows breeding.
Scientific name (genus): Epimachus
There are only two species of sicklebills – the black and the brown sicklebill, both found in New Guinea.
They’re sexually dimorphic, with the males developing very long tails, usually black, and iridescent highlights on the head and the back.
They have to court females, and one male will usually mate with several females during the mating season. To successfully court the female, a male will stand on a branch and show off his pectoral fans to the female.
7. Arfak Astrapias
Scientific name: Astrapia nigra
An incredibly colorful long-tailed species, astrapias are endemic to Arfak Mountains in West Papua. There, they grow up to 30 inches in length, a great part of which is their long tail.
The male has an iridescent shine, often with green breast feathers and a black head. Females are not as colorful.
Since they’re such rare animals, not a lot is known about their breeding habits, but it’s presumed that the males display their tails and breast feathers on branches until the females give them permission to mate.
Given their size, tail length, and colorfulness, peacocks are unique in the world of birds. However, there are a few species that share these characteristics, albeit to a smaller degree.
Ocellated turkeys and pheasants are the most similar birds, but peacocks are noticeably larger. Some small birds, such as greater birds-of-paradise and sicklebills also share these characteristics, and they use them to court during the mating process.