Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Where Have All the Peafowl Gone?

A few years back there was a nasty political fight in the neighborhood over the number of peafowl gracing our streets, lawns, rooftops, yards, etc. It seemed that people either loved these regal birds or hated them. The Ancient One fell in the "love 'em" category. Yes, I know they are loud, almost like a baby crying in the night. Yes, I hear neighbors complain about how messy they are and how destructive they are of plant life. Well, my garden hasn't suffered and, quite frankly, I find the flocks of crows to be far messier.

Anyway, the fight went all the way to the City Council and an ordinance was passed that allowed for a "thinning out" of the flock. The city, apparently, would supervise the trapping of peafowl and shipping them off to what was described as a "sanctuary" in Colorado. The peafowl population dropped and neighbors started being pleasant to each other again.

But since that happened, the flock has been growing. This past Spring it was larger than I had ever seen and The Ancient One just knew that the fight would start again. This time, maybe because there were so many peafowl about, there was no public fight. Even I had to admit that it might be wise to "thin out" the flock a bit. And sure enough, while not becoming major news, there were references in the local weekly that the City Council had passed a couple of ordinances. One made it a crime, a misdemeanor I'm sure, for citizens to feed the birds. The other provided for the trapping and shipping of the birds in order to reduce the crop. This, by the way, raised a question in The Ancient One's simple mind. How were the peafowl lured into the traps? Was food placed inside these cage like structures to entice them? If so, were city employees breaking the law by feeding peafowl? Or, as agents of the government, were they exempt from the provisions of the anti-feeding regulations?

Anyway, this program must have been carried out successfully. Although I saw no public announcement about the "trap them and ship them" campaign, almost overnight peafowl disappeared. Only a few remain like this lonely peacock I spotted the other day:

In addition, I have seen only 2 or 3 peahens, one of whom had 3 of the smallest peachicks (Is that the right word?) I have ever seen with her. The disappearance of so many peafowl has made The Ancient One wonder if the goal was to eliminate the flock rather than just thin it out. In the absence of a public outcry, I guess I'll never know.

At least a few of these beloved birds remain in the neighborhood. And when they are spotted, they will continue to bring a smile to The Ancient One's face.


Anonymous said...

If only people would dedicate as much energy the the eradication or true social ills, Leon, imagine what good could be accomplished! Sure, I understand the need to thin the flock, but to have them completely disappear would be sad. I know how much you enjoy your encounters with them on your daily walks. I hope they prove to be more tenacious than the city anticipates and the flock once again graces your streets!

Leon said...

Thanks for your comments SOPHIE! My guess is that the flock will survive and will be thinned out again in 5 or 6 years.

Charles Gramlich said...

Yes, I hope they don't completely disappear.

Darlene said...

As long as there is one male and one female the flock will grow again and again and again.

Aren't they reputed to be mean? I saw some in England at the House of Howard and they were so regal and beautiful to behold I am afraid I would side with your group.

Miranda said...

Interesting to read your comments. I live in rural New Zealand and we were recently astonished to find that a peahen has moved in with our chickens (and duck). We are delighted that she has joined our little flock and there is great excitement in our household when we glimpse her.