I am going to assume that you are reading this because you, like most new peafowl owners, have found that your new peafowl are afraid of you and try to get as far away from you as possible. There is hope, and my hope for you is that reading this article will help get you started with taming down your peafowl.
First I need to clarify that peafowl are not as domesticated as chickens. If you have or had chickens, you cannot assume that because you have experience with chickens, you automatically have experience with peafowl. Just because both birds originate from Asia does not mean that they are the same so keeping a very open mind and being patient will certainly help you.
A new peafowl will run to the far end of the pen to get away from you, hide behind something, fly up and hit the netting trying to get away, run from you, pace, etc. What do you expect from a bird that in it's native homeland must be weary in order to avoid being killed by a tiger!? To tame your peafowl, you must earn their trust and to earn their trust you use treats. The treat that I first used to tame my first pair of peafowl was unsalted, unshelled peanuts but you can use any treat so long as the peafowl really appear to love it.
Using the Treats for Peafowl page for help with treat ideas, throw out different treats for the peafowl and stand back to see what they like the most. Cat food, peanuts, lettuce, bread, and dried mealworms are all good taming treats. They should like all of those foods so pick one that they love and also one that you can easily buy for them and have on hand.
Now that you have found your peafowl's favorite treat, you can use that to your advantage. Throw out a very small amount of that treat - something they will easily be able to eat up very fast without being satisfied. Then, offer them more but this time DO NOT throw it on the ground. Hold it out in your hand. To look less threatening, sit on something such as a cynderblock. That way you will be at the bird's level and not be towering over them. From what I have found, the peafowl may feel more comfortable with eating from your hand if you are not looking at them. Turn your head away so that you are not looking in their direction and look at something else. This has been proven to work on my peafowl. When I have a bird that is hesitant to take food from my hand, I look away and then they will start eating. One of my peahens was even very particular about my thumb. I used to always have to tuck my thumb behind my pointer finger or else she would not eat from my hand. Now she doesn't care. Also don't cup your hand too much. Keep it rather flat as the peafowl seem more comfortable with a flatter hand than a cupped hand.
For quick reference:
When hand feeding peafowl:
- Crouch down or sit.
- Keep your hand out fairly flat & keep your arm extended out.
- To encourage a weary bird to eat from your hand, turn your head looking away from them and your hand.
- Stay calm when feeding them and do not make any quick, sudden movements.
Don't expect the peafowl to eat from your hand the first day you try this. Keep trying and have lots of patience. Once you get them eating from your hand continue to hand feed them at least once a week. This is to make sure that they stay friendly. Once they get very comfortable eating from your hand you won't have to look away from them when they eat from your hand. Also you won't have to get down to their level to hand feed them. You can lean over to hand feed them.
Hand feeding peafowl is a big start to getting them tame. Other things you should try are just sitting in the pen with them. You can read a book out loud while sitting there to get them used to your voice if you want to. Your peafowl will also get used to you entering the pen to feed them every day. Just that in itself will help to tame them down. You probably won't be able to get a peafowl you didn't hand raise to allow you to pet it or hold it. If you want a peafowl that tame you will probably have to imprint a peachick, which is a whole other story I will have to write about! Once you have one peafowl that eats out of your hand, the others will see this and will soon eat out of your hand too. The hardest part is getting one to feel comfortable around you, but once one is okay with you normally all of them will follow.
Finally, remember not to try and pet a peafowl too soon. If your peafowl just recently started trusting you, reaching out to try and pet it could break that trust and make the peafowl weary of you again. I sometimes try to pet the peafowl I didn't hatch and raise. They always pull back and walk off. Even though I have a peacock that loves to be pet and they see him being pet by me, they still don't seem to see being pet as a positive thing. I don't want to freak out my birds, so I rarely try to touch them and if I try, I reach out VERY slowly. My boyfriend was lucky enough to pet Alto one day. I then walked over and was able to pet him as well. I first got Alto as a yearling peacock, so we were very surprised that he let us pet him when he never showed interest before. Since that day, he has never allowed us to pet him again. Sometimes I try to pet him, but he will not let me. He wasn't sick or anything so it is a big mystery as to why he let us pet him that day.
Patience is key with taming peafowl! Don't give up! If you need more help with taming your peafowl, you can contact me. Also remember to tame your peafowl before free-ranging them. Never free-range a peafowl that is not used to you or afraid of you. It just makes everything much easier if the peafowl is comfortable with you.