Peacock feathers

Peacock feathers, scientifically known as train feathers or coverts, are highly specialised structures found in the tails of male peafowls. Composed of a series of elongated feathers, they play a crucial role in courtship displays, attracting mates through their dazzling appearance. Let’s now delve into the different types of peacock feathers, each possessing distinctive features.

Iridescent Eye Feathers (ocelli)

The iridescent eye feathers are the most recognizable and iconic type found in the peacock’s train. These feathers display a distinct eye-like pattern, often referred to as ocelli. The technical term for these feathers is “ocellated feathers.” The ocelli consist of a central dark spot, known as the pupil, surrounded by concentric rings of vibrant colors, such as blues, greens, and bronzes. These striking colors are the result of structural coloration, caused by the microscopic arrangement of melanin-containing cells and air-filled keratin layers.

Filoplume Feathers

Filoplume feathers, also known as accessory plumes, are smaller and less visible than the ocellated feathers. They are characterized by long, thin shafts and a fluffy, delicate appearance. Unlike the ocellated feathers, filoplumes lack pigmentation and do not possess structural coloration. Instead, they serve sensory functions, providing feedback to the bird about the position and movement of its feathers.

Covert Feathers

The covert feathers are another type of peacock feathers that form the protective covering of the bird’s wings. They have a shorter length compared to the ocellated feathers and lack the distinct eye-like patterns. Instead, they exhibit more uniform coloration, often in shades of brown, with subtle iridescence. The technical term for these feathers is “wing covert feathers.”

Tertiary Feathers

Tertiary feathers, also known as upper tail coverts, are located towards the base of the peacock’s train. They serve as a transitional section between the covert feathers and the long, dramatic ocellated feathers. Tertiary feathers are typically shorter in length and display a combination of the iridescent hues found in the ocellated feathers and the subdued colors of the covert feathers.

Rachis and Barbs

Peacock feathers consist of a central rachis or shaft, from which thin branches called barbs emerge. The rachis provides structural support to the feather, while the barbs have interlocking structures that give the feather its unique shape. Each barb further branches into barbules, which possess tiny hook-like structures called barbicels, enabling them to interlock with neighboring barbules.


Peacock feathers

Peacock feathers are not only visually captivating but also possess a myriad of technical intricacies. From the mesmerising ocellated feathers with their structural coloration to the sensory filoplumes and the protective covert feathers, each type contributes to the overall beauty and functionality of the peacock’s plumage. By understanding the technical names and unique characteristics of these feathers, we can further appreciate the marvels of nature’s ingenuity.