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Pavo muticus

Pavo muticus (*)

Cladus: Eukaryota
Supergroup: Opisthokonta
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Cladus: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Superclassis: Tetrapoda
Classis: Aves
Subclassis: Carinatae
Infraclassis: Neornithes
Parvclassis: Neognathae
Ordo: Galliformes
Familia: Phasianidae
Subfamilia: Phasianinae
Genus: Pavo
Species: Pavo muticus
Subspecies: P. m. imperator - P. m. muticus - P. m. spicifer


Pavo muticus Linnaeus, 1766


* Systema Naturae, ed.12, p.268

Vernacular names
Dansk: Grøn påfugl
Deutsch: Ährenträgerpfau
English: Green Peafowl
Esperanto: Verda pavo
Bahasa Indonesia: Merak Hijau
日本語: マクジャク
Русский: Яванский павлин
Svenska: Grönhalsad påfågel

The Green Peafowl or Javan Peafowl, Pavo muticus (from Latin Pavo, peafowl; muticus,Mute, docked or curtailed)[1] is a large Galliform bird that is found in the tropical forests of Southeast Asia. It is the closest relative of the Indian Peafowl aka Blue Peafowl (Pavo cristatus), which is mostly found on the Indian subcontinent.


The sexes of Green Peafowl are quite similar in appearance, especially in the field. During most of the year, when the males have no visible trains, it is quite difficult to distinguish the sexes. Both sexes have tall pointed crests, and are long-legged, heavy-winged and long-tailed in silhouette. Seen from a distance, they are generally dark coloured birds with pale vermillion or buff coloured primaries which are quite visible in their peculiar flight which has been described as a true flapping flight with little gliding that one associates with Galliform birds.

The males of the subspecies imperator and spicifer are overall bluish-green, the former having a metallic-green breast, neck, wing-coverts and outer webs of secondaries, whereas the latter has a duller, bluer breast and dark gun metal or prussian blue neck, and more black on the wing-coverts and outer web of secondaries. Compared to these, nominate muticus is overall more golden-green and has less blue on the neck and breast. Considerable variation exists in plumage of neck and breast which may be linked with age and sex.[2]

In some subspecies, the Green Peafowl has a loud call of ki-wao, which is often repeated. The female has a loud aow-aa call with an emphasis on the first syllable. The males call from their roost sites at dawn and dusk.[3]

Green Peafowl are large birds, one of the largest living Galliforms in terms of overall length and wingspan, though rather lighter-bodied than the Wild Turkey. The male grows up to 3 meters (10 ft) long, including the "train" and weighs up to 5 kg (11 lbs). The female is 1.1 meter (3.5 ft) long and weighs about 5.1 kg (2.4 lbs). It has large wingspan of approximately 1.2 m (4 ft). The Green Peafowl is capable of sustained flight and is often observed on wing.

Distribution and habitat

The Green Peafowl was widely distributed in Southeast Asia in the past from eastern and north-eastern India, northern Myanmar and southern China, extending through Laos, and Thailand into Vietnam, Cambodia, Peninsular Malaysia and the islands of Java. Records from northeastern India have been questioned and old records are possibly of feral birds.[4] The ranges have reduced with habitat destruction and hunting.[3]

Green Peafowls are found in a wide range of habitats including primary and secondary forest, both tropical and subtropical, as well as evergreen and deciduous. They may also be found amongst bamboo, on grasslands, savannas, scrub and farmland edge. In Vietnam, the preferred habitat was found to be dry deciduous forest close to water and away from human disturbance.[5] Proximity to water appears to be an important factor.[6]


Following the advice of his Hong Kong bird dealer, World Pheasant Association founder and ornithologist Jean Delacour recognized three races of Green Peafowl. Today most authorities recognize these three:[2][7][8]

* P. m. muticus (nominate). Found in Java. Was also known from the Malay Peninsula from the northern part extending south to Kedah.
* P. m. imperator. From Burma to Thailand, southern China and Indochina.
* P. m. spicifer. Found in northwestern Burma. Formerly also north-eastern India and Bangladesh.

Some authors have suggested that the population found in Yunnan may be yet another race.[9]


The Green Peafowl is a forest bird which nests on the ground laying 3 to 6 eggs.[10]

It has been widely believed without quantification that the Green Peafowl is polygynous, the male having no parental responsibilities whatsoever.

However, the theory that the male is polygynous also conflicts with observations in captivity; pairs left alone with no human interaction have been observed to be strongly monogamous. The close similarity between both sexes also suggests a different breeding system in contrast to that of the Indian Peafowl. Thus, some authors have suggested that the harems seen in the field are juvenile birds and that males are not promiscuous.[3]

They usually spend time on or near the ground in tall grasses and sedges. The Green Peafowl wades and forages for food in the shallows for a good portion of each day; it is also a good swimmer. Family units roost in trees at a height of 10–15 m.[3] The diet consists mainly of fruits, invertebrates, reptiles, and other small animals. As with the other member of its genus, the Green Peafowl can even hunt venomous snakes, making them useful for pest control. Ticks and termites, flower petals, buds leaves and berries are favorite foods of adult peafowl. Frogs and other aquatic small animals probably make up the bulk of the diet of growing birds.


Their natural predators include large cats; the Clouded Leopard, Leopard, Tiger, Jungle Cat and Fishing Cat prey on adult birds.


Due to hunting and a reduction in extent and quality of habitat, the Green Peafowl is evaluated as Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. It is listed on Appendix II of CITES. Before 2009 it was evaluated as Vulnerable. The world population has declined rapidly and the species no longer occurs in many areas of its past distribution. The population in the wild was estimated to be about 5,000 to 10,000 individuals around 1995.[3]

Hybridisation with the Indian Peafowl may also be a cause for the decline of the Green Peafowl, damaging the genetic stock of captive birds. The subspecies of Green Peafowl have also been heavily mixed in captivity.

In 2005, The Star reported that successful reintroductions were being made in Malaysia by the World Pheasant Association (WPA).[11]

It is worthy of note that the publication stated that the Javan and Malay races were genetically identical- the scientific community consensus. However, it has been suggested the Malaysian and Javanese birds are not identical.

National symbol
The green peacock was a royal symbol of Burma's monarchs

Although the Burmese or Grey Peacock-pheasant is the national bird of Myanmar, the green peafowl was an ancient symbol of the monarchs of Burma.[12] It was also shown during British colonial times on the flag of the governor and the naval ensign, as well as on the flag of the State of Burma from 1943–1945 and on the currency of independent Burma as well. The flag of the banned National League for Democracy party also features a Green Peafowl (with the tufted crest) next to a star.

Local names

* Lao: ຍູງ [ɲúːŋ]
* Thai: ยูง [juuŋ][tone?]
* Indonesian: Merak Hijau or Merak Jawa
* Malay: Merak Hijau


1. ^ Johnsgard, P.A. (1999). The Pheasants of the World: Biology and Natural History. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press. p. 374. ISBN 1-56098-839-8.
2. ^ a b Zoological Museum Amsterdam. Accessed 20 April 2008
3. ^ a b c d e BirdLife International 2006. Threatened birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book. Cambridge, UK. pp. 1052–1087 Pavo muticus PDF
4. ^ Rasmussen, P. C. & J. C. Anderton (2005) The Birds of South Asia. Smithsonian Institution & Lynx Edicions.
5. ^ Brickle, Nick W. (2002). "Habitat use, predicted distribution and conservation of green peafowl (Pavo muticus) in Dak Lak Province, Vietnam". Biological Conservation 105 (2): 189. doi:10.1016/S0006-3207(01)00182-3.
6. ^ Brickle, N. W., Nguyen Cu, Ha Quy Quynh, Nguyen Thai Tu Cuong and Hoang Van San (1998) The Status and Distribution of Green Peafowl Pavo muticus in Dak Lak Province, Vietnam. BirdLife International - Vietnam Programme, Hanoi, VietnamHanoi. PDF
7. ^ Clements, James F. (2007). The Clements Checklist of the Birds of the World, ed. 6. London: Christopher Helm. ISBN 9780713686951.
8. ^ Dickinson, Edward C.(editor) (2003). The Howard and Moore Complete Checklist of the Birds of the World, ed. 3. ISBN 0713665362. .
9. ^ Madge, Steve & Phil McGowan (2002) Pheasants, Partridges, and Grouse:A Guide to the Pheasants, Partridges, Quails, Grouse, Guineafowl, Buttonquails, and Sandgrouse of the World. Princeton Univ. Press, Princeton, N.J. ISBN 0-7136-3966-0
10. ^ Grimmett, R.; Inskipp, C., and Inskipp, T. (1999). Birds of India: Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-04910-6. http://www.pupress.princeton.edu/titles/6808.html.
11. ^ Chiew, Hilary, The Star, Malaysia, The return of the Green peafowl, 11 January 2005. [1]
12. ^ [2]

* Delacour, J. (1977). Pheasants of the World. 2nd edition. Spur Publications, Hindhead, UK.
* Evans, T. D. and Timmins, R. J. (1996). The status of Green Peafowl Pavo muticus in Laos. Forktail 11:11–32.
* Indrawan, M. (1995). Behaviour and abundance of Green Peafowl in Baluran National Park, East Jawa. MSc thesis, Zool. Dept., University of Aberdeen, UK.
* Johnsgard, P. A. (1986). The Pheasants of the World. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK.
* Kimball, Rebecca T., Edward L. Braun, and J. David Ligon (1997). Resolution of the Phylogenetic Position of the Congo Peafowl, Afropavo congensis: A Biogeographic and Evolutionary Enigma. Proceedings: Biological Sciences, vol. 264 (1387), pp. 1517–1523
* van Balen, S., Prawiradilaga, D. M. and Indrawan, M. (1995). The distribution and status of Green Peafowl in Java. Biol. Conserv. 71: 289–297.
* Dyke, Gareth J., Gulas, Bonnie, E., & Crowe, Timothy M. (2003). Suprageneric relationships of galliform birds (Aves, Galliformes): a cladistic analysis of morphological characters. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. 137(2): 227–244.
* Bao Wen-Bin, Chen Guo-Hong, Shu Jing-Ting, Xu Qi, Li Hui-Fang (2006). Screening of peafowl microsatellite primers and analysis of genetic diversity. Yi Chuan. 28(10): 1242–6.
* Fumihito, A., Miyake, T., Takada, M., Ohno, S., & Kondo, N. (1995). The genetic link between the Chinese bamboo partridge (Bambusicola thoracica) and the chicken and junglefowls of the genus Gallus. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA. 92(24): 11053–11056.
* Ya-Yong Ke, Hong Chang, Guo-Ping Zhang (2004). A study of the wild and captive green peafowl(Pavo muticus) by random-amplified polymorphic DNA. Yi Chuan. 24(3): 271-4.

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