This is Mrs. Peacock. She is sunning herself on our deck table. She is a peahen, as the female peafowl is called, the male being called a peacock. Mrs. Peacock appeared in our backyard one day. She had obviously escaped from her owner and had become feral. Apparently she had been living in the woods. Now she has adopted us.
When she first arrived we made an unsuccessful attempt to locate her owner. I did attempt to catch her, but peafowl can run surprisingly fast. They can also fly quite well for a bird so large. She can fly up to roost in fairly tall tress, but often roosts on the peak of our roof (right).
Peacocks are omnivorous. They eat seeds, berries, insects, and small rodents and reptiles. The lizard population around our house has definitely declined since her arrival. She eats bird seed and peanuts we put out, but she also enjoys foraging in the woods. She seems quite healthy and well adapted.
In the summer of 2001 she attempted to hatch a clutch of eggs. Her first clutch had three eggs. I discovered this nest while picking spent flowers off our daylilies. Mrs. peacock was sitting there motionless amongst the daylilies. She was so well camouflaged that I did not see her until I had almost stepped on her. She would not budge. At first I thought maybe she was sick or injured. I went and got Kristina to show her.
When we returned, Mrs. Peacock was still there. Kristina touched her tail. This elicited a hiss, but no other action by Mrs. Peacock. I then thought the only other thing that would keep her from fleeing was that she was sitting on eggs. We left her alone. Later that day we saw her on the deck and she was obviously not injured or sick. In fact she was vigorously honking and crowing. We rushed out to see if there was a nest, and sure enough there were three light brown eggs.
Unfortunately her first nesting attempt was a failure. One egg disappeared overnight, then one was broken, possibly because she made the nest in some pine bark nuggets. I then placed some wood shavings in the nest to cushion the remaining egg, but she abandoned the nest. We assumed that the eggs were infertile anyway since I don't know where she would have found a mate. But then we didn't expect a peacock to wander out of the woods in the first place.
After her first clutch was destroyed she laided another clutch of eggs. We know this because, even though we didn't see the nest, a peahen has a particular behavior when nesting. She will only leave the nest for a short period to eat and drink twice a day. When she leaves the nest, she goes some distance away. Then she begins honking and crowing and generally making a commotion, presumably to attract attention away from the nest.
It is now summer, 2002, and she's trying again. Poor thing, so much effort for nothing. We really need to catch her and take her to a good home where she would have a mate.
Text and Images Copyright © 2001 David Wittler