If you close your eyes, can you imagine exactly what a peacock looks like? How about a peahen? No? That might be because compared to the peacock the peahen is pretty boring to look at.
This is the case for lots of birds. But now, researchers have discovered that sometimes these colourful males are actually females in disguise!
It was commonly thought that the colourful feathers displayed by male birds are used to attract a mate. But how would that explain some female birds having colourful feathers too? Could there be another benefit to these colourful feathers?
As it turns out there is!
Researchers studying birds found that female birds that looked like males were able to eat without being bullied by other birds when they visited specially set up bird feeders. This could be because in birds, bright and colourful feathers are associated with aggression.
But being colourful isn’t always helpful. It’s also much harder to hide when your feathers are bright! Especially for female birds guarding a nest, this could be quite dangerous.
So, next time you see a bird with bright and beautiful feathers, don’t just assume it’s a male! It could be a female bird in disguise.