May 05 2008

Persecuted by Pesky Peacocks?

Published by at 4:17 pm under Tidings from Gabriola Island

You’re not alone!

peacock on display on Gabriola Island BCSome people love peacocks; others hate them — and we inevitably hear all about it.

A sample of some recent queries:

One young man wondered how to perk up his listless pet peacock. Turned out he was feeding it only lettuce and vegetable scraps. We don’t pretend to be experts on peacock nutrition, but we advised augmenting its diet with a high-quality, dry cat kibble to give the bird a balanced diet with protein and other nutrients. It worked. Not long after, he wrote to say that his peacock was doing much better on cat kibble. We also told him to get a second peacock to cheer up his bird. Peacocks are gregarious and congregate in well-ordered flocks, and his bird was no doubt lonely.

Other visitors to are driven mad by these avian beauties. Take Michelle F. from Orlando, Florida.
Peacocks on deck in Florida
“We just built a new home in an older, lakefront neighborhood. During construction, we noticed about seven peacocks hanging around. Now, (three months later), we have more than 20 of them. We are going crazy. They love our house, maybe more than we do. We hear peacocks crying at all hours of the night. During the day, they are on our roof and poop everywhere. They love – or maybe hate – our French patio doors and windows. They attack them so hard that I nearly flew off the couch a few days ago. We chase them away but they come right back. Help. I haven’t slept in days.”

I suggested that Michelle get a large dog and train it to chase peacocks. We used to chase our peacocks away with a broom and hit them if we got close enough. We once cornered a peacock in our wood pile. There he cowered, head hidden ostrich-like in the wood, body exposed to our feeble blows, crying piteously in such obvious distress that we never again hit a peacock with a broom. Instead, we now spray them with a high-pressure garden hose. They quickly learn to avoid yards where they get hosed. The key is high pressure water, not a light misting, since they like water and are attracted to sprinklers.

Michelle’s response:

“Funny you said get a dog. Two of our neighbors purchased big dogs just for that purpose and the dogs are more afraid of the birds than the birds are of the dogs. My Maltese runs at the peacocks but they come fearlessly back at her. I’m afraid they will kill her! My husband, originally from Panama City, warned me that peacocks are dirty, annoying birds. I now believe him. Older residents love them and so we are a divided neighborhood.”

Tiny Kali-gee is a fearless peacock chaserYes, peacocks can be very intimidating. Even our deer were afraid of them at first. However, peacocks will leave if the other animal is aggressive enough. One of our regular visiting dog friends, a large blond shepherd, does an excellent job of (temporarily) scaring them off by running and barking at them. We were surprised one day to see our smallest cat chase the peacocks off our deck, but our other two felines are afraid of them. As for peacock-loving neighbors, ask them to feed the peacocks, if they like them so much. In our experience, peacocks thrive on cat kibble, horse “Cob,” poultry pellets, and sunflower seeds. A feed store (or farmer’s cooperative) in any small town will stock most of these feeds. Like all animals, peacocks will congregate where they are regularly fed.

Similarly, they will abandon places when the food supply is exhausted. We’ve encouraged one of our bird-loving neighbors to feed them, and we now have fewer peacocks.We have heard that they make good eating, but better check your local and state hunting laws before you trap or kill them. They may be a protected species in your area. On our rural island, there is a $200 fine for killing a peacock because they are not listed as a game animal and are, therefore, protected by default.

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