Friday, June 12, 2020

A final inspection?

Almost exactly a month ago, a mature male peacock made an unexpected visit to my garden.  In fact, he toured it twice in the same day.  While there are plenty of peacocks on our peninsula, there have never been any living in our neighborhood and we thought Mr Peacock's visit was a fluke.  This morning, I received evidence that this may not be the case when I turned  a corner and came upon not one but two peahens inspecting my back garden.

I never managed to get a photo of the two hens together.  This is the one bringing up the rear.

She followed her sister to the dirt path just inside the Xylosma hedge and, when I followed them, they both ducked through the hedge and down our back slope


The hens are large birds but not nearly as flashy as the males.

This is a photo of the male during his visit on May 13th

I can't squeeze under or through the hedge, so I had to take the long way around, down the concrete steps leading through the back slope.  This is the best shot I got of the hen, which regrettably highlights the mass of weeds along the boundary between our property and that of our neighbors on the south side

Unlike the male, who took a relatively leisurely stroll through our entire garden, the hens scuttled away from me, moving too fast for me to do a good job focusing the camera

This was the last shot I got of her


She hustled through the thicket of ivy that marks the transition between our neighbors' property and ours, presumably following her sister.  Unlike the male, they didn't make a return trip so I'm hoping they didn't find the garden to their liking and won't be moving in to raise a family here.  This morning, a friend (same city but miles away) disclosed that she came home following an appointment yesterday to find a peahen with three chicks nesting on her front door mat.  Cute as the little family may have been, I'd prefer that they take up residence elsewhere, preferably some distance away.  They can chase away other birds, make a lot of noise, and  cause significant damage to gardens and property.  As it is, I'm still having enough trouble with the resident gopher...


All material © 2012-2020 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

25 comments:

  1. The only time I've ever seen peacocks walking around was in Lisbon in the courtyard of the Jorge castle. Just as with other wildlife, like rabbits, they are cute only when passing through your garden, not as residents ;)

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    1. I enjoyed the visit by the male peacock as he strolled through the garden, even though he didn't fan open his tail, but the idea that he might move in his harem of two peahens and start producing chicks was not amusing at all!

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  2. Wildlife always keep you guessing. Peacock's lived on a farm behind my parent's place and we used to laugh and their constant calls. Sorry to hear Monsiour Gopher is still in residence. My cats have eliminated 5 so far this year. Maybe you should allow Pipig to stroll the garden for an hour or two.

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    1. Peacocks are VERY noisy during mating season! Mr Gopher has earned the name Kirottu (Finnish for "damned one"), Elaine. I don't let Pipig out for more than a few minutes each morning when I clean out the box in her catio because coyotes regularly carry off cats and small dogs here. Why the coyotes aren't curtailing the activity of gophers - and the spread of peacocks - in the area is another big question.

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  3. I wonder if it's common for two hens to hang together. And is it possible they already have a nest in the thicket between the properties... you got some good shots despite them scurrying away.

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    1. If what I've seen at the Los Angeles Arboretum, another SoCal location with a large peacock population, is representative, peahens do prefer to hang out in groups. The fact that these two looked like mature females suggests that, yes, they've already moved into the area. I found peacock poop on the cement block stairway on our back slope, indicating they probably entered the garden from the wild canyon area below us. If they start making regular visits, I may have to take down my bird feeders, which I understand can be a major attraction for them.

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  4. Yesterday I finally saw the bunny Andrew has mentioned spotting a couple of times in the front garden. Dammit. I hope your visitors keep on moving.

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    1. I saw a bunny in my garden again this morning, after I'd deluded myself into thinking they were gone, Loree. I've been trying to convince the gopher that he needs to go elsewhere using both sonic devices and deterrent granules watered into the soil in areas that show signs of their disturbance - it does does lead him to move but so far he hasn't moved far enough!

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  5. They are beautiful birds indeed Kris but I agree with your sentiment that hopefully they don't like your garden too much. We have problems with regular feathered visitors in the shape of a pair of ducks. They leave a lot of mess in their wake which is hard to clean off paved surfaces.

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    1. After cleaning up (or trying to) the plop one of the peahens left on the concrete block stairway, I really hope I don't have to do that on a regular basis, Anna.

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  6. So darned photogenic tho. You do have some unusual critter issues, Kris!

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    1. I can't imagine what's going to turn up next, Denise!

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  7. I once saw a coyote dragging a dead blue heron down the road. (A heartwarming sight for a koi keeper.) I think their hunting skills vary. A bird with spurs that slash would require a very wily coyote.

    What is the fluffy chartreuse foliage in the "male during his visit on May 13th" photo? Coleonema? So pretty!

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    1. Yes, that's Coleonema pulchellum 'Sunset Gold', HB. I've used it a lot in this garden.

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  8. Wow! That is simply amazing. Peacocks wandering around in coastal California. I have no idea how destructive they can be because I don't know what they eat but if chickens and turkeys are anything to go by they don't care what they dig up. I suspect that now you have had your fun with them you will be shooing them away the next time.

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    1. Peacocks were brought to the peninsula 100+ years ago as a gift for a wealthy landholder who once owned much of the area and they did what birds do, Jenny. Now they can be found all over the place here, although in the 9.5 years we've lived here, they've never settled in this particular area. Friends with gardens elsewhere on the peninsula tell me I either need a dog or a water soaker gun ;(

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  9. Exotics are exciting at first, but eventually, reality sets in.
    Have you tried soaking rags in ammonia and stuffing the gopher holes? I know that works for groundhogs.
    Last night the deer ate the top half of all my phlox and bachelor buttons. The day before, chipmunks ate my one 'safe' area for tulips (the ones I posted). Grrr! Critters in the garden are no fun.

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    1. Critters are a mixed bag, that's for sure, Eliza! I'm sorry to hear about your tulips. I haven't tried rags soaked in ammonia but I tried dryer sheets, which didn't work.

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    2. I read that ammonia smells like bobcat urine, so it acts to discourage rodents from hanging around.
      I just spent a couple hours putting barriers around the garden. Bamboo stakes and fishing line, which confuses the deer when they feel but can't see it. Fingers crossed it works!

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  10. Your garden is a wildlife magnet. I would dread both the peacocks and the gopher. The squirrels and the chipmunks are making a mess of my pots and ruining them completely. I just don't know what to do. BAH!!!!

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    1. I've no experience with chipmunks, Lisa, but I've battled squirrels for years. The best you can do is outwit them for a short while - eventually they always seems to find a way around whatever roadblocks you set for them!

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  11. Oh gosh, you are being invaded by quite a variety of critters! Hopefully they all decide to move on soon. I did a stroll around the garden early this evening and was appalled by my own collections of weeds that have sprung up in just the last week or two. I was feeling so good about an area that I've been weeding and actually putting cardboard and mulch on but tonight was very depressing.

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    1. Weeds are relentless, Barbara! I keep meaning to tackle those weeds at the boundary line but I literally have to crawl up the slope (roughly a 45 degree angle there) to get them out and somehow I keep finding other somewhat easier tasks to distract me.

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  12. How exciting to have peacocks inspecting your garden. I thought you were going to say you'd like them to nest in your gardens. But after further contemplation, I remembered how destructive my beloved chickens were to my gardens, and in the end, we parted ways. It still must be a treat to have them pass through, and you must feel somewhat honored to be considered.

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    1. The peacocks have terrible reputations among the gardeners I know that have to deal with them, Cindy. If they'd nest down in the wild parts of the canyon and only pay an occasional visit I wouldn't mind but I understand they can become really comfortable in certain areas, take up residence and become pests just like the raccoons.

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