Indian peafowl (Pavo cristatus) are large, semi-terrestrial birds native to Southeast Asia. Males of the species, called peacocks, are renowned for their brilliant tail plumage, which is used in courtship displays. Long revered for their plumage, peacocks are the national bird of India and are widely kept as pets. Because they are not fully domesticated, peacocks are often left to forage for their food, maintaining their natural omnivorous diet of plant and animal matter.
Seeds and Grain
Seeds and grain make up a large part of the peafowl diet. In their native habitat among the dry deciduous forests of India, peacocks forage from a variety of plant species, including a species of cashew called mombin and acacia beans. Agricultural crops are also a food source for peacocks living near people. Peanuts, lentils, maize and wheat crops are abundant and easily raided by peacocks, garnering them a reputation as pests in certain areas, however, religious attitudes toward the species forbids preventative measures.
Fruit is another important component of the diet of wild peafowl. Although they often consume cultivated fruit, peacocks also eat several native varieties of fruit, such as governor's plum, garuga and Indian gooseberry. Wild fig, an introduced species, is widely naturalized in India and has since become a favorite food of peacocks in lowland areas. The rich, sweet fruit is an important and abundant source of nutrients in late summer. In the forests of Gujarat, Indian jujube constitutes a large part of the peacock diet. Because of the warm subtropical climate of India, jujube trees produce fruit year-round, making it a reliable food source for peafowl.
Indian peafowl are not predatory birds by nature but will take advantage of animal protein whenever available. They will occasionally eat insects like locusts and crickets, as well as small reptiles such as lizards and young snakes. They will also eat mice, gophers and young rabbits, typically scavenged from the kills of predatory animals like mongoose and civets. Despite making up a small portion of the diet, animal proteins are an important part of the natural diet of peacocks in India.