niche drama

Feral Peacocks Are Tearing Los Angeles County Apart

An agent of unmitigated chaos. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Congrats to the feral peafowl of Southern California, who have laid siege to Los Angeles County and have zero plans to leave anytime soon. Deal with it, the peafowl seem to scream at the rising sun each morning! Humans, who brought the peacocks to the area to begin with, will simply have to lie in the bed they made — awake, for hours, as the birds are very loud.

“They wake me up at dawn. They sound like babies being tortured through a microphone, a very large microphone,” Kathleen Tuttle, a resident of East Pasadena, told the Washington Post. “And that is probably the start of my complaints.”

Maybe you are confused. Let me back it up a little. The peacock population in Southern California has seen big booms over approximately the last year, injecting utter chaos into the region. The New York Times attributes this trend to the rapid spread of virulent Newcastle disease, which reportedly triggered an avian quarantine, which in turn prevented officials from relocating the loud boys — males being the birds primarily targeted for removal — to more friendly environments. The peacocks are believed to have descended from imported ancestors, trucked in by rich people of yore to serve as status-symbol guard dogs. They’ve mated like crazy, though, and now run roughshod over the San Gabriel Valley, picking the shingles off roofs and attacking their own reflections when they catch them in, say, car doors. The peacocks consume whole gardens, poop everywhere, and of course, scream relentlessly.

For all those reasons and probably more, some locals loathe the avian scourge and want it gone. Their presence has proved such a nuisance for this camp that the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors supposedly plans to ask for a new ordinance outlawing peacock feeding. Because while certain circles hate the peacocks, others consider them very beautiful and reward them with snacks. But the food reportedly makes them aggressive (one area resident told the Post he saw a pack of about 30 peacocks gang up on a coyote and run it out of town) and difficult to shift.

“It’s the most polarizing thing I’ve ever been involved with,” local peacock removal expert Mike Maxcy — a retired curator of birds at the Los Angeles Zoo — told the Post. “Seventy percent of the population hate them and want them out,” some even taking matters into their own hands and attempting to poison them, or murder them with cars. Meanwhile, Maxcy added, the remaining “thirty percent love and cherish them.”

Efforts to remove at least some of the peacocks are ongoing: Francine Bradley, a poultry specialist emerita at the University of California, Davis, told the Times that the goal is to get to a level where people can “coexist with the peacocks … in a way that is balanced.”

“They are still going to be a part of the community,” she added. “That’s just the way it is.”

Feral Peacocks Are Tearing Southern California Apart