The party of peacocks at Kingsbrae Garden in St. Andrews has been joined by two mature peacocks hailing from White Head Island off Grand Manan.
The male and female peacocks had belonged to a White Head man who passed away earlier this year. Susan, a resident of Grand Manan who wishes not to use her last name, explains that in early August the peacocks were moved to the home of a neighbor of hers who enjoys birds but also owns other animals, a state of affairs that ruffled the peacock's feathers. The birds took matters into their own hands and set about finding a new home. It happened to be Susan's.
"I saw two peacocks walking up the road one day. They came into my yard and started making themselves right at home," Susan says. All the ingredients were right: a quiet stretch of four acres with fruit trees and brambles in full production, a brook, a perching space for the female on a tree and the male on the deck, which overhung the brook by 40 feet. Susan says, "They could see each other while they slept."
At first all went well. Susan knew where they were and what they were doing. "They have very predictable habits." The male took to following Susan around as she worked in the garden. One day as she went to pick some berries the male "jumped at me and kicked me in the back of the knees." She laughs. "You know what happens when someone hits the back of your knees." But it was a sobering moment. "He didn't like me picking from his kitchen." She thought about the safety of her grandchildren, who had not yet come to visit. She talked to her neighbors and to the island's dog catcher for some contacts and ideas. She knew there had to be a better solution than the peacocks roaming from house to house.
Just as a plan was being formulated, her household underwent some renovation work. It being too noisy for the peacocks, they moved to another neighbor's.
Mary Jones, office manager at Kingsbrae Garden, helped to coordinate the relocation effort. She explains that she was contacted by a volunteer with the Charlotte County Animal Shelter. Twyla Chadwick, the animal keeper at Kingsbrae, notes, "They knew we had birds [peacocks], so they thought maybe we could take two more." Jones and Chadwick worked with Susan and a ranger to get two traps over to the island. Susan says, "We googled what peacocks really like to eat. It turns out to be cat food. We said, 'Well we can do that, we all have cats.'"
A trap was made from a wire fishing crate that was rigged like "an old‑fashioned rabbit trap," says Susan. The neighbor who now was playing host to the peacocks sat "very, very still holding the [trigger] string and a cup of coffee." Eventually both peacocks reached for the food and "boof, it went down," Susan says of the trap. While the rescue crew had two cages, the peacocks huddled into one. "Probably that was better; they felt safer because that male is extremely protective."
Chadwick met the ferry at Blacks Harbour and moved the pair to Kingsbrae. She is gradually introducing the peacocks to the garden's established party. The pair has been placed with three babies. "I was hesitant to introduce them, so I put them in with the babies because they wouldn't be a threat to the babies, and the babies wouldn't be a threat to them." She adds, "I'll gradually introduce them to the mature peacocks."
Having the additional peacocks will work well; it will give Kingsbrae an additional breeding pair. "They're highly intelligent and very family oriented. Next season you'll be able to see them." In June the males are dancing and showing off their plumage during their display to the females.
Susan is looking forward to taking her grandchildren to Kingsbrae for a visit to see the peacocks. "It was magical to have them," she says of the experience.