One of the most interesting stories of nature is the one about the birds that cannot fly. To us humans that seems like such a sad, unfortunate occurrence, depriving these flying-intended creatures of such powerful and amazing things like flying. And soaring in the open skies.
That is why, whenever we do come across a bird species that cannot fly, we immediately become fascinated by it; the wing, bone structure, feather distribution, and so on. From penguins to kiwi, from chickens to ostriches, we all have the same thought; these poor creatures can’t fly. And the most common question following such a thought is; well, why?
Now, in the following paragraphs, we won’t talk specifically about why the aforementioned birds can’t fly. Rather than that, we will focus on the very king of the birds; the peacock. We know for sure that ostriches, penguins, kiwis, and chickens cannot fly, but when it comes to peacocks, opinions become divided.
So, before we start, think about this; do you think peacocks can fly; if yes or not, think about all the reasons why. In the following paragraphs, we’ll talk about this in detail and see whether you’re right or wrong? So, without further ado, let’s get started!
Peacocks and Flying
So, Can They Fly?
Let’s start with the answer right away. Peacocks, in fact, are technically capable of flying. It is common to see a peacock ‘flying’ in the wilderness, usually to hunt and catch prey. However, the catch lies in the fact that peacocks can’t stay in the air for a long time, like other flying birds. At their best, peacocks can fly up to a mile, or 1.6km, and not an inch farther.
Generally speaking, peacocks won’t fly for any reason other than being in danger or hunting for food. They also can go into the air up between 2 and 8 meters, so their flying abilities are used for avoiding ground-level obstacles, threats, and so on. Being able to ‘fly’ briefly is, however, essential for wild peacocks in case they roost or hatch up in the trees.
How Do Peacocks Fly?
It is well known that peacocks have incredibly long tails and wings. So, one would only assume that flying is a difficult task for peacocks. However, the length of their tails or wings has nothing no to do with making flying difficult. In fact, the extremely long tail ensures the bird is completely stable while in the air, even at heights of 8 meters.
Now, the reason the tail ensures such flying strength and stability lies in the very feathers covering the tail. Those feathers are generally referred to as flying and tail feathers. Sure, their main purpose is an aesthetic and decorative one, but flight feathers ensure the tail provides flying stability, while the tail feathers serve the decorative and aesthetic purpose mainly.
Now, when it comes to their wings, peacocks actually use them to glide through the air, rather than fly. When it comes to traditional flying, birds are considered to be able to fly if they can stay in the air for a longer, sustain flight from one place to the other.
However, instead of flying, peacocks simply launch themselves off the ground or the tree, flap one wing against the other, and glide through the air for a limited time or length. This technique is, for example, used when peacocks ‘fly’ from one tree to the other for different purposes.
One such purpose is ‘mating’. Male peacocks have especially large wings and tails for one reason; to show the breathtaking feathers to the peahens in hope of mating. During the mating ritual, peacocks spread their train feathers, sometimes even the wings, and create an incredibly beautiful, big fan that resembles a parachute. If a peacock spread his wings and tail during the mating ritual (something known to call a ‘train’), chances are he’ll be selected by the peahens.
Why You’d Be Right To Say Peacocks Can’t Fly
After we’ve explained the issue about peacocks ‘flying’, we could conclude that saying ‘peacocks can fly’ would be a technically correct statement, despite the notion of the ‘gliding’ through the air, rather than flying.
But, what if we told you that saying ‘peacocks can’t fly’ would be an accurate statement too?
Well, as one may know, hollow bones are what enable birds to stay in the air for longer periods of time. Their hollow bones also allow them to fly fast or slow, aggressively while hunting, or elegantly while enjoying a breezy, summer day.
Well, peacocks, as a matter of fact, don’t have hollow bones. Generally speaking, flightless birds don’t have hollow bones. Penguins, ostriches, emus, kiwis, and similar birds, all have denser, solid bones which prevent them to fly. Bones in flying birds are filled with air pockets, which makes them almost weightless in the air. And, the peacock is very much one of those birds that have denser, solid bones.
It is also essential to take a look at a peacocks’ body. Considering how flying birds look, we’d say they have a rather pointed body, with a small, narrow chest. Flying birds have aerodynamic bodies that enable them to fly and stay in the air. Now, considering how peacocks look, we can say that their bodies are far from being aerodynamic. The wide, heavy-looking chest and all the muscles in the very front of the body make them look heavy.
Now, because of the solid bones and overall size, peacocks are truly too heavy for actual flying. In order to fly, birds are generally light, considering their size and weight ratio. Bigger birds, like ostriches or peacocks, are simply too heavy to fly. Sometimes, the large feathers also add to the overall weight of the bird. Therefore, such birds are only able to jump high and stay in the air for a limited time. Peacocks are no exception, especially when we consider how big and abundant their feathers are.
Peacocks and Flying in Captivity
Now, up to these paragraphs, we’ve only been talking about peacocks flying in the wilderness. But, knowing how many peacocks are being bred and held in captivity for sale, we can’t help but wonder; do peacocks ever fly in captivity? Considering that peacocks mainly ‘fly’ in order to overcome an obstacle or to catch food, and since there is no need for such activity in captivity, domestic peacocks never fly.
In fact, this is not the domestic peacocks’ own decision. Even if they wanted to fly, they wouldn’t be able to due to a terrible thing peacocks breeders usually do. Well, they have peacocks’ wings clipped to avoid the birds escaping. Because peacocks can jump high, they need their wing to be able to actually move through the air. Without properly functioning wings, peacocks cannot go over fences.
Wing clipping is an incredibly inhumane thing to do. However, bird breeders, especially in cases of flightless birds, clip the wings of birds to prevent their escaping and flying away. Birds used for circuses and similar performance generally go through wing clipping, for example.
Can Peacocks Be Trained To Fly?
Peacocks, thanks to their dense bones and heavy, abundant feathers, cannot fly in the true sense of that activity, nor can they be trained to do so. Flying as such is completely out of the reach for these incredible birds. Breeders, even if they wanted to train peacocks to fly, wouldn’t be able because these birds are not built for the proper form of flying.
We hope that this brief, yet detailed insight into the sector of peacock flight has finally provided the right answer to the age-old question. There is a clear distinction between birds being able to fly and bird being able to jump high and glide through the air for a limited time and length. As incredible and majestic as it would be to see peacocks fly around, it is simply not possible thanks to their non-aerodynamic body, huge wings, and heavy bones and feathers.