The Secret Signal In a Peacock’s Tail

The peacock’s shimmering blue and green tail plumage is one of the most dazzling sights in the animal kingdom, but there’s more to the display than meets the eye. When peacocks fan their tail in a mating display, the rustling feathers generate a low-frequency noise called “infrasound” that's so low-pitched that humans can’t hear it, but other peacocks can. Because female peacocks can only see a male if he’s in view, the males often use the infrasound to signal to females that they’re in the area. The sound works well at both short and long distances — whether the infrasound signal is perceived as “hello ladies” by females or as a territorial “go away” by fellow males. Exactly how the females hear the infrasound is still a mystery. Researchers say the need to do more studies to determine exactly how the females hear the sound — whether through their ears or their legs.