The Indian peacocks and peahens at the Arboretum are not domesticated, and have lived here ever since their ancestors were introduced from the Indian subcontinent in the 19th century. There are usually 15 birds on site, although the number fluctuates throughout the year because many also live in the neighbouring village of Nuneham Courtenay.
The blue-necked males display to the females between February and July, creating huge fans with their tail feathers. They often accompany this with strutting and shivering movements, and loud repetative calls that sounds a little like a cat's 'mee-ow'. The peacocks shed their impressive tail feathers every year in July, and regrow them over the autumn and winter months.
The peahens have short tails and grey-brown plumage (except one peahen who has a genetic mutation called 'black shoulder' and has speckled-white feathers).
You may see our peacocks scratching and having dust baths, chasing each other, or hopping up to the tops of some of our trees. These are all normal behaviours and can be very entertaining. If you spot a peacock lying with his leg sticking out strangely, don't panic – this is how they prefer to sunbathe.
Our popular peafowl find everything they need to survive at the Arboretum, eating a varied diet of insects, berries and other plant material. They provide wonderful entertainment for our visitors with their dazzling appearance and strange habits. While you enjoy watching them, please be mindful not to:
• Feed the peafowl, or encourage or allow them to take your food
• Approach closely, chase or try to touch the peafowl – they may defend themselves if threatened
• Allow children to get too close, and always supervise their interactions
Be also be aware of peafowl on the main drive and in the carpark when arriving and departing.