California City Relocates Noisy Peacocks | Smart News
A Pasadena resident photographs a peacock spreading its tail feathers on her front lawn in 2021. Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
Residents of South Pasadena, California, are getting tired of scratches and dents in their cars, brown spots on their lawns, and repeated late-night summer scratches. The culprit? Peacock
For years, peacocks have called Los Angeles County home, and residents have debated how best to treat the 10-pound birds. Some enjoy them (and even feed them), while others wish they would go away.
“Peacocks walk down our block every now and then, and I never see them causing any trouble,” Feliza Castellanos, a South Pasadena resident of two years, told Andrew J. Campa of the Los Angeles Times. “They are beautiful birds; I don’t understand why they want to round them up and get rid of them.”
But despite their charm, some residents say the animals are a menace, especially because of their noise.
“It looks like babies being tortured and with a microphone up close. It’s very shocking,” Chapman Woods resident Kathleen Tuttle told ABC7’s Alex Cheney in June 2021. “There’s no way you can sleep through it and it’s extremely distracting.”
Now, after several City Council meetings, petitions and an open forum, South Pasadena has become the latest California city to remove peacocks and move them to private farms, ranches and open spaces in the state. The process began on December 2, 2022, and the city is now seeking volunteers to set up 10-by-10-foot cages in their yards to help with trapping efforts.
South Pasadena’s peacock population has increased dramatically in the last year. A 2022 census counted 102 birds—a sharp increase from 36 in 2021. It’s unclear what led to the increase, though a lack of predators and an abundance of pine trees make the city attractive, and reduced traffic during the pandemic may have has prompted the birds to move from other high-population areas, according to the LA Times.
Puffins are not native to North America, but they are often found in warm-weather cities, including Miami, Austin and Honolulu, writes Brendan Borrell of Audubon magazine. In California, the birds may be descendants of those imported from India in the 1870s by rancher Elias J. “Lucky” Baldwin. The LA birds, called Indian peacocks or Pavo cristatus, are one of only three species of peacocks in the world. Males, known as peahens, are bright blue and weigh 8 to 13 kilograms, while slightly smaller females, called peacocks, are a lighter gray or brown.
After Baldwin’s death in 1909, part of his 8,000-acre farm—with about 100 peacocks living there—was turned into the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanical Garden. Since then, peacocks in the surrounding area have dug up gardens, scratched children, poured over cars and caused traffic jams.
Some Californians have taken matters into their own hands—between 2012 and 2014, about 50 peacocks in Rolling Hills Estates were illegally killed, Veronica Rocha reported for the LA Times in 2014. Some were found poisoned, hit by cars or shot with rubber bullets. or arrows.
“The cruelty is horrific,” resident Linda Retz told the LA Times at the time. “I think anyone who does is pretty concerned.”
In an effort to control the population, Los Angeles County officially banned feeding roaming peacocks in 2021, with violators facing a $1,000 fine or up to six months in jail.
However, some residents say the birds add to the charm of the area.
“I believe peacocks add value to my property and I believe they are something that is unique to this area,” Monterey Hills resident Rachel Pinckney tells Andres de Ocampo of the South Pasadena Review. “It’s not like you can live anywhere and have these kinds of experiences with nature and such beauty. I find it hard to understand how people take that for granted, especially in these times.”
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