Peacocks make some interesting and unique sounds, one of which sounds like a ‘honk’. But, why do peacocks honk? What does it mean? Peacocks typically honk to attract a peahen as a mate, and sometimes when they feel threatened.
What Does a Peacock Honk Sound Like?
A peacock’s honk sounds like, well, a honk - hence the name!
It’s best if we start off with an audio example. Here is a video with a peacock trying his luck with a penhen that walks past by giving her a honk and advancing:
She doesn't seem interested though, does she!
What Does a Peacock Honk Mean?
The typical peacock call is more of a bird noise crossed with a baby crying out. They use this sound for a lot of reasons; to make their presence known, warn off predators, call a mate, ward off other peacocks, and so on.
When they honk, it’s almost always due to trying to attract a mate. This is why peacocks honk directly at peahens, and will usually combine it with a little shuffle in their direction as shown in the video above.
This is also why most people have not heard a peacock honk in person. If you’ve seen one in a zoo, or roaming around a public place, they’ll typically only make their more common crying sound.
I’m sure you’ll agree, it’s certainly an interesting noise!
Related - Wondering if female peafowl spread their feathers like peacocks?
What Noises and Sounds Do Peacocks Make?
Peacocks are noisy, make no mistake about it. Like most animals, peacocks make different noises depending on the situation and how they want to communicate with other peacocks.
The most common sounds peacocks make can be described as:
Screaming - I see most people describing a peacocks normal call as a scream. Personally, I think it’s one of the funniest sounding bird calls. Peacocks use this call for all kinds of reasons and can make quite a racket in a large group (see video below).
Honking - This is the main sound we’re covering in this article.
Train rattle - The train rattle is the sound peacocks make when they vibrate their tail feathers. Scientists have discovered that this also causes a vibration in the air that we can’t detect, but peahens can.
It’s part of a peacocks mating call, and combined with their tail display, the most impressive peacock typically gets the mate.
Here is an example of the classic peacock ‘scream’:
Why Do Peacocks Make Noise at Night?
Peacocks tend to make more noise at night than they do during the day - which doesn’t go down well with the neighbors!
It’s still not fully known why this is. In the wild, peacocks take to the trees to roost so they’re safe from predators on land so you’d think they’d be quiet.
They’re not though, peacocks often make a lot of noise at night, and this is worse the higher number of them there are in the group.
It’s definitely a lot worse during the breeding season which is typically from March to August. This means there are courtship noises taking place, but it’s clearly not the only reason why they make such a lot of noise at night.
Another thing that always sets peacocks off are loud noises, especially when it’s quiet at night. Traffic, in particular, sets them off so keep that in mind if you live near a main road.
Are Female Peacocks Loud?
First let me clear something up; female ‘peacocks’ are called peahens, and both peacocks and peahens are peafowl.
Both the males and females make noise, it’s hard to say if one is noisier than the other. But, yes, peahens are loud.
I think peacocks are probably more vocal overall in my experience, but they both make a lot of the same noises.
Having spoken with a bunch of owners, some say peahens are noisier and some say peacocks are, so it’s hard to answer.
Again, the noise levels really escalate during mating seasons, and peacocks are responsible for a lot of that noise.
Related - Here's a look at how far peacocks roam.
How Do You Stop a Peacock From Making Noise?
I see and hear people asking how to quieten a peacock a lot. A lot of people want to raise one or more of these beautiful birds, but the noise does present a problem.
Unfortunately, despite reading all kinds of crazy things such as playing a radio near them or spraying them with water when they’re being noisey - you really can’t stop a peacock being noisey.
It’s not fair to do anything extreme to try and stop them either. Screaming and making that distinctive peacock calling noise is a natural behavior, and something innate to how peafowl communicate with one another.
If you’re thinking about raising peafowl, my best advice is to first check with your local office that they’re allowed in your area.
Then the courteous thing is to let your neighbors know you’re thinking about raising some and see what they say.
You now know why peacocks honk. It’s one of their best mating calls, and a noise they sometimes use when they feel threatened.
Peacocks and peahens are capable of making some exotic and interesting noises. It’s both one of the most impressive things about them, and the most annoying if you have neighbors nearby!
Image credits - Photo by Ricardo Porto on Unsplash