The labelling of groups of animals or birds into simple and easy recognisable words such as herd or flock is commonplace, but many different animals and birds have collective nouns (group titles) unique to the individual. Peacocks (adult males), peahens (adult females) and peachicks (chicks) are more correctly referred to as peafowl, although generally, they are known simply as peacocks.
Whilst there are only three different species of peafowl worldwide, this truly magnificent and easily recognisable bird is blessed with at least ten different group titles, which we will examine in detail below. So, what is the name of a group of peacocks?
The most common terms and collective nouns for peacocks (peafowl); are an Ostentation, a Pride and a Muster. When considering the overall appearance of this colourful bird, it is easy to see that at least two of the more frequently used group names above clearly indicate the stature, nature and appearance of one of the world’s most impressive members of the avian family.
A flock of peacocks, commonly referred to as a party
The three species of peacock are the Indian, formerly known as the Common Peacock, the Green and the Congo, with the Indian being the most commonly recognisable throughout the world with the long tail feathers of the cock bird used in elaborate courtship displays.
The green peacock has a similarly long tail and characteristic courtship rituals but the Congo, whilst displaying an array of attractive plumage lacks the long tail and a therefore less impressive courtship dance.
This name for a group of peacocks must surely derive from the observation of the Indian peacock with its ornate long tail, often referred to as a train, which during courtship it lifts into the air forming a fan-shaped spectacle of pattern and colour which is truly ostentatious. The dictionary definition of ostentatious describes it as ‘a showy display’ or ‘designed to impress’ and it is difficult to imagine a more accurate description for these beautiful birds.
A group of peahens (female peacocks)
As with an ostentation of peacocks, it is likely that this term derived from watching the male Indian peacocks proudly strutting around in groups in an attempt to impress the females and seduce them prior to mating.
As the cock bird proudly displays himself to attract females, he is an awesome sight not only when his train is raised and quivering in a fanlike display but also when it is relaxed and on the ground, giving the male an overall length in excess of 2 metres.
The word muster generally refers to an assembly of individuals, commonly troops, who are gathered together for a battle, display or inspection. Whilst cock birds may protect their display areas from other cock birds; it is unlikely they will go into battle, although, as previously seen, they will, however, display themselves ready for inspection by the females.
Close up of a male Indian Peafowl
Peacocks practice what is commonly referred to as Polygyny. This means that whilst the male will mate with a number of different females during each breeding season, the female will generally select just one male mate. Females can then often be seen in groups of three, four or five in company with a single male who presides over his own harem of breeding females, hence a harem of peahens.
A peahen with her baby peachicks
Many adult males within the family known scientifically as Phasianidae, which includes 181 species of grouse, pheasants, peafowl and similar birds, engage in a process known as lekking. This derives from a particular area within the breeding ground known as a Lek or arena, where individual birds compete against each other by engaging in competitive courtship displays in order to attract suitable female breeding stock. For this reason, a collection of peacocks is often referred to as a lek.
During mating, adult males will often hoot loudly at the female they are trying to impress with their courtship rituals, particularly during displays within a lek (see above) and these calls often appear raucous and unrestrained. When more than one peacock is engaged in such behaviour the ensuing cacophony can be described as bawling or a bawl meaning to shout or call noisily, hence a bawl of peacocks.
A male Indian Peafowl, showing off his beautiful feathers to a female peacock
The word cluster simply means the coming together of individuals to form a group and most likely refers only to adult male peacocks when they congregate together prior to lekking (see Lek of peacocks) during the mating season or alternatively outside of the breeding season when they roost in close proximity to each other.
One can only surmise how the term a party of peacocks originated although by having due regard to their flamboyant plumage and strutting behaviour it is not unreasonable to liken it to a number of individuals dressed up to attend a private function or party!
The most obvious characteristic of the peacock is its striking, colourful and patterned plumage, particularly with regards to the cock birds train (Indian and Green peacock only). Whilst the peahen of both the Green and Congo has also areas of striking patternation and colouring this is not the case with the Indian peahen who, when compared to her male counterpart, is rather drab and overall predominantly brown in colour.
Whilst the word pulchritude, from the Latin ‘pulcher’, meaning beautiful, is generally referred to females within the human world, within the animal kingdom it relates to both sexes and can also mean handsome or good looking.
Similarly, the word bevy is commonly used to describe a group of females and is often accompanied by the word ‘beauties’ as in, ‘what a bevy of beauties paraded in the Miss World contest’. A bevy is also used as a collective noun for quail and larks.
Close up of a female Indian Peafowl (Peahen)
The origin of this collective noun is difficult to find and is mainly listed in references emanating from the southern hemisphere, particularly New Zealand. It is very rarely used, perhaps as there are so many more suitable terms which are not only easier to spell but also to pronounce! A search through the majority of English language dictionaries proved fruitless as did research via the Encyclopaedia Britannica and Google. If anybody knows the answer, why not contact us so we can share it with others?
Generally speaking, it depends on the time of the year as to which types of peacocks flock together. For example, during the breeding season, groups usually consist of one male peacock and up to five peahens. Outside of the breeding season, flocks typically consist of purely peacocks or peahens.
From time to time, groups of immature male peacocks form bachelor groups, where they will live with one another.
Peacocks and peahens flock together to forage for food, travel and to roost together, usually high in a tree for safety, out of the way of predators.
A group of peacocks foraging together
Peacock flocks usually tend to contain anywhere from five to ten different birds. Peacocks tend to not get on well with other birds, but they are reasonably gregarious with their own kind. It's usually when they become older, where you'll find them spending more time on their own.
There is no specific term or collective noun for a group of baby peacocks, but baby peacocks are actually called peachicks.
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