When Peacocks Fly

What Do Peacocks Look Like When They Fly? Doodlewash and watercolor sketch of flying peacock

I wanted to bring a peacock to our #NatureDoodlewash hike today, but got to wondering what they looked like in flight. So tonight, we have a doodlewash of this flying peacock. Also, admittedly, this version actually fits in my sketchbook so that was also a bonus. Though peacocks can only fly a rather limited distance, when a predator approaches, these magnificent birds run like hell, hop a bit, and take off into the sky. Well, towards the sky, at least, as they can’t fly particularly high, but the effect is beautiful and strikingly different than the usual peacock pose.

Actually, only the males are called peacocks, the females are peahens, the babies are peachicks, and collectively they’re referred to as peafowl. The tail feathers the male uses to attract females with by being generally fabulous don’t actually start growing until around the age of three. During medieval times, these birds were considered a delicacy and after being plucked and prepared for the feast they were reassembled with their feathers for the final presentation. Though pretty, medieval Yelp reviews were not kind and said that the birds tasted horribly, were hard to digest and also criticized by physicians as “causing bad humors.”

Thankfully, these birds are not on the menu much anymore and we can simply enjoy their intricate beauty. Out of 200 tail feathers, around 150 will have that famous eye pattern. Apparently, this was an evolutionary trait that came about due to the preference of the ladies. Peahens are hot for those eyes, even though they’ve evolved and have been lost many times. I guess it just depends on the latest fad in peacock world. Luckily, eyes are currently still the “in” trait so we can enjoy their beauty as well.  And if you’re lucky enough, you might even be able to see one fly.

Join me throughout the month of June on a virtual nature hike! Show everyone what you love most in nature with a watercolor sketch or painting and tag your images #NatureDoodlewash so we can all enjoy it with you! I’ll create a featured artist gallery of our global hike at the end of the month! 

World Watercolor Month is coming in July! Click here to learn more!


About the Doodlewash

M. Graham watercolors: Gamboge, Burnt Sienna, Cobalt Blue, Viridian, Permanent Green Pale, and Neutral Tint. Sennelier: Opera Rose. Lamy Safari Al Star pens with Platinum Carbon black ink and second pen with blue ink in a 5″ x 8″ 140 lb. (300 gsm) Pentalic Aqua Journal – Photo reference by Captain Supchat.

Profile photo of Charlie O'Shields
Creator of Doodlewash® and founder of World Watercolor Month™ (July) and World Watercolor Group™. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!
Published in By Charlie
53 Comments
  1. Catherine Johnson 1 year ago

    Gorgeous peacock! I actually know all that for a change because my son did a project on them not too long ago. We’ll be so wise coming here.

  2. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 1 year ago

    Medieval Yelp reviews – you are hilarious, Charlie. I take my grands to a park where peafowl are featured, and the kids always look to see if the males are strutting their stuff and fanning their feathers. They do not perform to requests – not human requests, anyway. I love your spectacular and unusual view of this one in flight. You captured everything we love about these magnificent birds.

    • Author

      Hehe…thanks, Sharon! 😃💕Yeah, they don’t really perform on demand do they. I’ve always been fascinated with peacocks! So fun to watch!

  3. debiriley 1 year ago

    seriously, Charlie….. this has to be one of the most entertaining sites I have found!!!! I’m nearly always smiling, laughing or ROFL. Well done. Awesome. loved the “run like hell..” now, your pretty boy bird, is beautiful! very cool to think to do him flying. out of curiosity… if I may?? what is your ‘day job? please don’t tell me its peacock keeper, either. lol

    • Author

      Awww thanks Debi! 😃💕Thrilled you enjoy my little posts. I’m rushing so fast I often don’t even know what I’m writing half the time! 😊 My day job I’m the Creative Director for a packaging and retail design studio called Venn49. But wow…peacock keeper sounds cool, too!! Lol

      • debiriley 1 year ago

        made you laugh this time!! yay! anyway, thanks for sharing – its very cool you’re in a creative field. makes life just that much more pleasant!! though, everything – has its own dramas. lol 🙂 even the poor peacock keeper, must surely roll his eyes once or twice.

  4. Teresa Robeson 1 year ago

    I’ve seen American turkeys fly but never a peacock fly. Your doodlewash is so cool! <3

  5. Jodi 1 year ago

    what an intriguing doodlewash! Never thought about what a peacock looked like flying! and to learn all the extra info…. well… added bonus! 🙂

    • Author

      Thanks so much, Jodi! 😃💕I was all set to do the usual pose with tail feathers fanned out and then got distracted like I’m prone to do! Lol

  6. Carol 1 year ago

    Only you would think outside the box so much (and be brave enough) to show a peacock in flight! Clever, awkwardly graceful, and amazing, Charlie! Ummm, Yelp way before its time? LOL! Kind of morbid and probably unsanitary to display the feathers with the cooked fowl, but I am sure that was a presentation reserved for the rich and famous of the time 😉

    • Author

      Hehe…thanks, Carol!! 😃💕Yeah… I don’t they I would have touched this dish. But hmmm…I bet adding the feathers back for show was exactly why they all got sick! They really needed Yelp! Lol

  7. memadtwo 1 year ago

    A good excuse to show off your beautiful paint! You know I love anything with eyes; even though they aren’t showing, I know they are there. (K)

  8. Jacob 1 year ago

    Wow, this is playing with my head! I’m so used to seeing the peacocks stationary and have never really considered that they might, y’know, be able to use those wings. It was well worth coming out on this hike to catch such a glimpse, what a glorious specimen it is! Awesome doodlewash!

    • Author

      Thanks so much, Jacob!! 😃Thought this view might be fun. And truly, it really was the only way to get the whole bird in my little sketchbook! 😊Lol

      • Jacob 1 year ago

        Ah well, limitations = creativity and all that – the tiny sketchbook inspired something different and fun!

  9. Teri C 1 year ago

    Beautifully painted peacock! The flying pose is so unique and creative. Love it.

  10. Jill Kuhn 1 year ago

    If pigs could fly…uh, I mean peacocks! I had no idea they could fly! 😉 Love all the colors in your doodlewash! I bet it was fun to do! 🌟🎨💕

    • Author

      Thanks so nice, Jill! 😃💕hehe…yeah, they can fly for a bit. They’re actually graceful too, according to those who get to see them fly at least! Hehe

  11. Beautiful peacock Charlie! I have seen them fly up high into trees, not sure how far up but it was enough to make me go “I had no idea!” kind of high. 🙂 it is an awesome sight especially because of those long feathers.

    • Author

      Thanks so much Margaret! 😃💕Yeah, that these guys can fly at all is pretty amazing isn’t it?! Peacocks are cool. Hehe

  12. minorartmaster 1 year ago

    I love the way you have captured the movement of the bird – it brings amazing life to this great painting!!

  13. Stunning beauty, they even have a graceful look in the sky….low in the sky! Never having seen one in flight, I know feel privaledged to have seen your doodlewash instead 😀

    • Author

      Thanks Rebecca! 😃💕It’s a pretty quick flight…hehe… they don’t get very far, but super cool they can even fly at all! Glad you liked this!

  14. YesterdayAfter 1 year ago

    Oh wow Charlie a flying Peacock! That’s genius and beautiful wow I love it! 😉 <3

  15. WOW! Charlie, you always amaze me! 🙂 Gorgeous work!

    • Author

      Awww… thanks Carsten! I say the same about you! 😉… I just feel great when I manage to get my daily post out! hehe

  16. Despite your lovely painting I’m going to have to be the dissenting voice on peacock. When we lived in the country an escaped peacock adopted us and started living in a neighbour’s tree. Every summer morning at about 4.30 he’d wake is with his horrible cry: a guttural honk followed by a series of piercing shrieks. One day our greyhound decided to chase him down the garden. The dog grabbed him by his grandiose tail which he jettisoned and escaped to a nearby tree. He spent the rest of the summer with only three or four miserable feathers in his depleted tail.

    • Author

      Haha… bring on the dissenting voice, Michael! Actually someone on Instagram had a similar story… the honking is a fairly miserable thing to endure it seems. But poor guy isn’t going to get much action with a tail like that. Though I’d be with you, as they’re pretty to look at, but wake me at 4:30 in the morning and I’m not going to be a fan! lol

  17. Cathe 1 year ago

    What a beautiful Peacock! They sure are intriguing birds. I grew up in an area with Pea families…(would that be correct?), they make a lot of noise especially at night. They sound like cats in heat, moaning and screeching, very haunting.

    • Author

      Thanks so much Cathe!😃💕I think pretty much “pea” anything with these guys is correct. Yeah… I guess I’ve luckily never had to encounter one in the evening. That seems to be a regular complaint with these guys. I wonder what they’re fussing about? hehe

  18. Beautiful, Charlie. Wow you know how to make those paints glimmer and sparkle, my friend! Never seen one in flight before, very cool!

  19. kathiwerner 1 year ago

    Gorgeous! I havenever seen one flying, so at least on the screen now, 😉

    • Author

      Thanks Kathrin! 😃💕I’ve never seen a stop motion version of one so I knew I had to doodlewash it! I’ve just seen them swoop out of a tree or hop on fence, but that’s too quick!

  20. Sharon Mann 1 year ago

    Your peacock woke my tired eyes this morning!! Stunning.

  21. Sand Salt Moon 1 year ago

    Knockout colors !

  22. Sissh 1 year ago

    Your painting is amazing, Charlie! A wonderful rendering.
    They are quite remarkable in flight arn’t they. One would think they are a bit like ostriches or penguins, but this just adds to their interest. 🙂

  23. Tom Merriman 1 year ago

    A magnificent peacock, Charlie! I’ve never thought of a peacock flying, I always thought they were flightless. I’ve Googled a few images since seeing your post, and in flight they put me in mind of a phoenix. I wonder if that’s where the legend has come from? Hmmm….

    • Author

      Hmmm… interesting! Yeah, I knew they could leap a fence, but hadn’t seen all the images until I started looking. It’s really amazing… they look incredible in flight!

  24. Curious to the Max 1 year ago

    Meaner than mean
    don’t tread on their scene
    they’ll peck you clean

    (and that’s the troooth!)

  25. […] version of this bird each time I go to do so, which is only twice now, as last year I did a drawing of a flying peacock. This means I’ve already shared most all of the peacock trivia I know in that previous post. […]

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