Congo peafowl

The Congo peafowl (Afropavo congensis), known as the African peafowl or mbulu by the Bakôngo, is a species of peafowl native to the Congo Basin.[2] It is one of three extant species of peafowl, the other two being the Indian peafowl (originally of India and Sri Lanka) and the green peafowl (native to Myanmar and Indochina).

Congo peafowl
Afropavo congensis -Antwerp Zoo -pair-8a.jpg
A pair (male left, female right) at Antwerp Zoo
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Galliformes
Family: Phasianidae
Genus: Afropavo
Chapin, 1936
A. congensis
Binomial name
Afropavo congensis
Chapin, 1936


It was only recorded as a species in 1936 by Dr. James Chapin after his failed search for the elusive okapi. Dr. Chapin noticed that the native Congolese headdresses contained long reddish-brown feathers that he couldn't identify with any previously known species of bird. Later, Chapin visited the Royal Museum of Central Africa and saw two stuffed specimens with similar feathers labeled as the 'Indian peacock' which he later discovered to be the Congo peacock, a completely different species. In 1955 Chapin managed to find seven specimens of the species. The Congo peafowl has physical characteristics of both the peafowl and the guineafowl, which may indicate that the species is a link between the two families.[3]


The male (peacock) of this species is a large bird of up to 64–70 cm (25–28 in) in length. Though much less impressive than its Asiatic cousins, the male's feathers are nevertheless deep blue with a metallic green and violet tinge. It has bare red neck skin, grey feet, and a black tail with fourteen tail feathers. Its crown is adorned with vertical white elongated hair-like feathers. The female measures up to 60–63 centimetres (24–25 in) in length and is generally a chestnut brown bird with a black abdomen, metallic greenback, and a short chestnut brown crest. Both sexes resemble immature Asian peafowl, with early stuffed birds being erroneously classified as such before they were officially designated as members of a unique species.[4]

Diet and behaviorEdit

As members of the genus Pavo, the Congo peafowl are omnivores with a diet consisting mainly of fruits and insects. In Salonga National Park, its diet is taxonomically narrower in secondary forest than in primary forest. The male has a similar display to that of other species of peafowl, though the Congo peacock actually fans its tail feathers while other peacocks fan their upper tail covert feathers. The Congo peafowl is monogamous, though detailed mating information from the wild is still needed. The peacock of the species has a high-pitched "gowe" calling noise while the peahen emits a low "gowah". They have loud duets consisting of "rro-ho-ho-o-a" from both sexes.

Distribution and habitatEdit

The Congo peafowl inhabits and is endemic to the Central Congolian lowland forests of the Democratic Republic of the Congo where it has also been designated the national bird. It occurs in both primary and secondary forest in Salonga National Park. Secondary signs of its presence like droppings and feathers were more frequently encountered in regenerating secondary forest than in primary forest. In secondary forest, its droppings were found close to watercourses, where trees were smaller and plant diversity lower than in primary forest.[5]

In the 1990s, it was recorded in Maiko National Park, foremost in low hills and ridges between watersheds.[6]


The Congo peafowl is threatened by habitat loss caused by mining, shifting cultivation and logging.[6]


The Congo peafowl is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. As of 2013, the wild population was estimated at between 2,500 and 9,000 adult individuals.[1] Given its use of regenerating forest in Salonga National Park, secondary forests might be an important habitat to include in a conservation strategy.[5]

Captive breeding programs were intiated in the Belgian Antwerp Zoo and at Salonga National Park.[7]



  1. ^ a b BirdLife International (2016). "Afropavo congensis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2016: e.T22679430A92814166. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22679430A92814166.en.
  2. ^ Dowsett, R. J.; Forbes-Watson, A. D. 1993. Checklist of birds of the Afrotropical and Malagasy regions. Tauraco Press, Li
  3. ^ "Congo Peafowl". World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Archived from the original on 6 July 2015. Retrieved 4 March 2014.
  4. ^ BirdLife International (2014) Species factsheet: Afropavo congensis. Downloaded from "BirdLife | Partnership for nature and people". Archived from the original on 2007-07-10. Retrieved 2013-08-07.
  5. ^ a b Mulotwa, M.; Louette, M.; Dudu, A.; Upoki, A.; Fuller, R. A. (2010). "Congo Peafowl use both primary and old regenerating forest in Salonga National Park, Democratic Republic of The Congo". Ostrich. 81: 1–6. doi:10.2989/00306525.2010.455811.
  6. ^ a b Hart, J.A. and Upoki, A. (1997). "Distribution and conservation status of Congo peafowl Afropavo congensis in eastern Zaire". Bird Conservation International. 7 (4): 295–316. doi:10.1017/s0959270900001647.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  7. ^ Collar, N. J.; Butchart, S. H. M. (2013). "Conservation breeding and avian diversity: chances and challenges". International Zoo Yearbook. 8 (1): 7–28.

External linksEdit