African Congo Peafowl | Complete Breed Guide & Interesting Facts

African Congo peafowl is perhaps the most distinct-looking subspecies among all the subspecies of peafowl.

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While the majority of features they possess are similar to the Indian and the Green peafowl, one look at the Congo peafowl is enough to tell them apart from the rest. 

These peafowls are also lesser-known as compared to their counterparts, owing to the fact that they are the most recently discovered subspecies of peafowl.

How to identify a Congo peafowl?

The following characteristics are helpful in identifying a Congo peafowl:

  • The appearance of a Congo peafowl

The distinguishing feature of a Congo peacock is the much shorter length of its tail, as compared to other subspecies. Not only is the tail smaller in size, but it also appears to be denser. However, it does not have more feathers on its tail as compared to any other peacock.  

Another notable feature of a Congo peacock’s tail is the absence of ocelli, or the eye-like pattern. The patterns on its tail are much simpler as compared to other peacocks.

Moreover, Congo peafowl is also known to have similarities with guinea fowl. 

  • Size of a Congo peafowl

Congo peafowls are large birds that weigh roughly between 3-and 6 kilograms. The average height of these birds is between 23 and 28 inches. Congo peafowls are smaller in length and size as compared to the Indian and Green peafowl. 

  • Color of a Congo peafowl

Congo peafowl has vibrantly colored feathers, though they are not as striking as those of the other two subspecies. 

Congo peacocks have white-colored feathers on the crown of their heads, and their body is covered with dark blue feathers, with metallic green and purple tints in some places. 

Congo peahens, on the other hand, have feathers of metallic light green color on their backs, and of brown/ chestnut color on their chests. 

The Behavior of a Congo peafowl

Congo peafowls are relatively calm birds. However, they tend to turn aggressive when they sense any kind of threat to their food or territory. As long as one leaves them alone and lets them be, they will not harm anyone. 

These birds are also known to be shy and secretive. It has also been noted that they are more active during day time. 

Related Read: What Time Of Day Do Birds Eat?

Habitat of a Congo peafowl

Congo peafowls tend to live in areas with abundant water sources. Their habitat includes tropical and subtropical forest lowlands, watersheds, and low hills. They are not known to migrate. They tend to live in places where their water and food needs are met with ease.

Can Congo peafowls fly?

Congo peafowls can fly. However, they are more likely to travel on foot, than use their wings. When they do fly, their flight is not more than 8 meters in height. 

A Congo peafowl is most likely to fly to either reach a branch of a tree, a rooftop, or over a fence. 

The speed at which a Congo peafowl flies is roughly around 16 kilometers per hour. Also, they are known to cover only up to 100 meters of distance in one flight.

Male Congo Peafowl vs female Congo peafowl?

What are the differences between them?

The differences between male Congo peafowl (also known as Congo peacock) and female Congo peafowl (also known as Congo peahen) are given below:

FeatureCongo PeacockCongo Peahen

Color of feathers
A Congo peacock has dark blue colored feathers on its body, with an inclusion of some metallic green and purple feathers.A Congo peahen has brown/chestnut colored on the front side of its body, and metallic light green colored feathers on its back.
Length of the bodyA Congo peacock’s body is approximately 25-28 inches in length.A Congo peahen’s body is approximately 24-25 inches in length. 
Weight of the bodyA Congo peacock weighs roughly around 4-6 kilograms.A Congo peahen weighs roughly around 3-4.2 kilograms.
Size of the bodyA Congo peacock’s body is larger in size than a Congo peahen’s body.A Congo peahen’s body is smaller in size than a Congo peacock’s body.
TailA Congo peacock has a longer tail.A Congo peahen has a shorter tail.
BehaviorA Congo peacock is generally more aggressive and territorial.A Congo peahen is less aggressive and territorial.

What are the similarities between male and female Congo peafowl?

Congo peacocks and Congo peahens are similar in the following aspects:

  1. Flying ability

Both Congo peacocks and Congo peahens fly at approximately the same height and speed, and cover almost the same amount of distance in one flight.

  1. Eating habits

Regardless of their gender, Congo peafowls eat the same diet. Congo peafowls are omnivores and are known to eat insects, smaller animals like lizards, snails, frogs, and mice, along with grains, fruits, and vegetables.

History and origin of Congo peafowl

Which country are Congo peafowls native to?

As the name suggests, Congo peafowls are native to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. They are known to live in African rainforests.

Discovery of Congo peafowl

The Congo peafowl was discovered in 1936 by an American ornithologist named Dr. James Paul Chapin. 

He found that the people of Congo used feathers of a unique bird. It was when Dr. James Paul Chapin visited the Royal Museum of Central Africa and saw two of the stuffed specimens with the same kind of feathers that were labeled as ‘Indian peafowl’, that he realized it was a different bird altogether.

Dr. Chapin found seven different specimens of the same subspecies by 1955.  

What is the national bird of Congo?

The Congo peacock is the national bird of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. 

Are Congo peafowls found in other parts of the world?

It is very rare to find a Congo peafowl anywhere else in the world apart from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This is because they are not known to migrate. 

They are only seen in other parts of the world if they have been bought for the purpose of exhibition or breeding, which is quite rare.

How long can a Congo peafowl live?

A Congo peafowl is known to live for at least 10 years on average. However, their lifespan can extend up to 25 years. 

Are Congo peafowls endangered?

Congo peafowls are not considered an endangered species. However, owing to the decline in their population, they have been declared ‘Vulnerable’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN). Their global population is reportedly less than 10,000.

The reason behind the decline in population:

The loss of habitat is the biggest threat for Congo peafowl. While they are also threatened by poaching and hunting, it is habitat loss due to mining, shifting cultivation, and logging that has affected the number of their population severely.

Steps were taken for conservation of the Congo peafowl

A number of captivity breeding programs have been initiated at zoos all over the world for the conservation of the Congo peafowl. They were initiated at the Belgian Antwerp Zoo and at Salonga National Park located in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Can Congo peafowls be kept as pets?

It is not advised to keep Congo peafowl as pets. Congo peafowls tend to live in groups, and it is best suited to keep them that way. They can be sensitive, with a tendency to get aggressive when they feel threatened. 

Moreover, because they have been listed under the category of ‘Vulnerable’, it is not advised to keep them as pets.

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Tips on breeding Congo peafowl

It has been observed that the breeding season of the Congo peafowl depends on the local rainfall. They tend to breed in their native spring season.

However, because it is a lesser-known peafowl, there is not much information available that is specific to Congo peafowl other than their breeding season. Following are some general tips that are known to be helpful:

  1. Size of the breeding pen

The breeding pen needs to be at least 7 feet tall and 10 feet wide. The bigger the pen, the better it would be.

  1. Ensuring safety

It is important to make the Congo peafowl feel safe in their pens. One way that this can be done is by adding a roof to the pen. The pen needs to be completely safe from predators so that the peafowl can rest easily.

  1. Nesting areas

A nesting area should be made available to the peafowl. This can be made with the help of straws or grass.

  1. Availability of food and water

Congo peafowl prefers to live near water sources. Hence, water and food must be made available at all times.

  1. Hatching eggs

The incubation period takes up to 28-30 days. You can keep them in commercial incubators at 99-100 degrees Fahrenheit as soon as they are laid.

Interesting facts about Congo peafowl

  • The Congo peafowl is the only subspecies of peafowl that are known to be monogamous. 
  • The Congo peafowl is the only member of the genus ‘Afropavo’.
  • They are also known to vocalize less as compared to the other two subspecies of peafowl.

The most distinguishable of all the peafowls, the Congo peafowls are definitely as interesting as they look. 

More research needs to be done on the Congo peafowls to find out how else they differ from their counterparts. 

While the recent steps taken in the direction of conserving this beautiful species have been showing some progress, there is still much room left for more progress to be made.