Amorous peacock evicted from grounds of Victoria apartment

Feathers flew over the weekend as a peacock injured a 90-year-old James Bay resident in her apartment doorway, leading to his banishment to an undisclosed location until the end of mating season.

“The bird wore out his welcome,” said Ian Fraser, senior animal control officer at Victoria Animal Control Services.

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Victoria Animal Control Services captured and relocated the amorous bird on Friday after reports that he had attacked a resident of Beacon Towers, an apartment building on Douglas Street across from Beacon Hill Park. A 90-year-old woman was left with a 38-millimetre gash on her arm, as well as bumps and bruises.

An attack by a peafowl on a human is quite unusual, Fraser said.

“I can’t recall attending any attacks by a peafowl on a human in my 22 years in Victoria,” he said.

Fraser said that this particular peacock had claimed the entranceway of the apartment as his performance stage for his harem of three hens. Peafowl are polygynous, which means the male will mate with several peahens in a season.

Fraser wouldn’t speculate on what set off the bird, but said it likely had to do with him guarding his territory. The bird might have seen his reflection on the apartment’s glass front door and thought it was a rival, causing him to act aggressively, Fraser said.

The peafowl mating ritual consists of the peacock strutting and displaying his blue and green tail feathers. Less attractive are the loud calls, which come at all hours of the day — and night.

“It was like Studio 54, with him dancing constantly for his girls,” said Susan Simmons, who lives directly above the entrance. “He would start the day at 5:30 in the morning, calling the ladies over for his presentation.”

Peafowl roam free in Beacon Hill Park. The birds are considered a domestic species living in the wild in B.C. — not wildlife. There is a year-round feeding station, with food and water available for the birds, at the back of Beacon Hill Children’s Farm.

The birds regularly cross Douglas Street to visit the gardens of the apartments. For the most part, humans and avians co-exist peacefully.

According to Simmons, this peacock first started to visit just when the COVID-19 lockdown started, in mid-March.

“I would walk by every day and he would be there, perched on the fence,” said Jim Turk, who lives next door.

At first, the building’s residents were charmed. Those whose apartments face the rear of the building did not have to put up with the noise, but everybody had to do a dance to avoid the droppings left on a daily basis.

In response to complaints, Animal Control removed the bird on Thursday and relocated him to the opposite end of the park. It took the peacock 11 hours to find his way back to his old stomping grounds.

He’s now been removed, banished until the end of mating season. When he returns, he will likely look a little different — peacocks molt, shedding their tail plumage every summer.

Animal Control does not band peafowl, so there will be no way to tell if the offending bird returns next year. City staff estimate that there are 40 birds living in the park — although this is not an official census.

Simmons said the peacock was responsible for at least one vehicle collision. A motorist who braked suddenly to avoid hitting the bird caused a motorcyclist to run into the back of his car.

“There certainly is no peacock crossing sign to warn motorists,” said Simmons, who has been living in the building for 10 years. “There was once a fight in the middle of the road that held up traffic for half an hour.”

parrais@timescolonist.com

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