Peafowl Come to Roost

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Photo courtesy Gene Chuang A peacock perches on the chimney at San Marino resident Gene Chuang’s home on Gainsborough Drive.
Photo courtesy Gene Chuang
A peacock perches on the chimney at San Marino resident Gene Chuang’s home on Gainsborough Drive.

They’re colorful, both in appearance and language, and they’re considered either a beautiful part of the scenery or an outright nuisance, depending on whom you ask.
“At first, they’re a great sight to see,” said Gene Chuang, who lives on Gainsborough Drive. “Then, you hear about neighbors that start feeding them, so they stick around the area.”
Chuang, who moved to San Marino in 2010 after previously living in the Chapman Woods area east of Pasadena, said he was used to seeing peafowl — the male peacocks and female peahens — because of the proximity to the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden.
“I’ve seen the peacocks slowly migrate over from the Arboretum. They’re heading west,” Chuang explained during a phone interview. “I think about a year ago is when I started seeing them (in his San Marino neighborhood). I live next to a house that’s been unoccupied for about 20 years, so they would nest there.”
It started off as two peahens, Chuang said, but eventually a pair of peacocks came along.
“Sure enough, about three months ago, I saw two groups with about five baby chicks each,” he added.
According to Ron Serven, environmental services manager and city arborist for San Marino, peafowl were introduced to the Arcadia area in the late 1800s and have proliferated so much that they are now considered wildlife to the area. Because of that, Pasadena Humane Society (with which San Marino contracts for animal control) will not remove or relocate the bird unless they are injured.
Serven, in an informational release on the city’s website, advised residents that peafowl are afraid of dogs, dislike water (from a sprinkler or hose), will avoid bird repellants and like to eat birdseed, bread, pet foods and a variety of plants (such as amaryllis, begonia, California poppy, petunia, kale and fruit and vegetable plants like broccoli, tomato and Brussels sprouts.) He also emphatically stated to not feed the birds, as that will encourage them to stick around.
“If you create a habitat they’re going to like, they’ll have the tendency to want to stay there,” Serven said.
Residents also are advised to trim large overhanging trees and to cover composting bins, as peafowl are attracted to compost. Chuang said the peafowl in his neighborhood easily fly to the top of 100-foot trees and also to rooftops, either to avoid coyotes or to vocally intimidate each other.
“It sounds like bloody murder,” Chuang said of the screeching noise peacocks make. “They’re very territorial and very aggressive. The two males, they’ll perch on two trees across the street and squawk at each other like there’s no tomorrow.”
In addition to the noise, Chuang said that peafowl droppings are particularly unpleasant, that peacocks tend to spray mark their territory and that the birds are known to peck and scratch at their reflections in car paint.
“They’re bold, they’re dumb, they’re territorial and they’re not afraid of humans,” Chuang surmised, laughing. “Our only hope now is the roaming coyotes. Coyotes were considered an issue at one point, but now people are welcoming them.”

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