Incorrect on the number of peafowl. There are seven. Two males, five females. Our novice observation tells us they are of different ages. The older male is most certainly in charge.
We’ve seen their plummage in its full glory, but for reasons we can’t quite identify. After they’ve eaten, on the back porch, the younger male, particularly, will sometimes open up and have a shake about the place. His tail dress is small, compared to what i’ve seen. We wonder if that doesn’t have to do with the fact that these birds are wild. Long trains of tail feather aren’t practical when you are scurrying away through the tall brush. Again, that’s just a notion. They may be of a breed that doesn’t get large. Or they may just be young.
Last night, at dusk, Stephen was sitting on the stoop of the chicken house when he witnessed the most incredible routine. Up to that point, we had not been sure where the birds go at night. Despite my having read that peafowl go high to sleep, we suspected that they roosted in the small patch of woods and tall grass at the back of our garden where they sometimes go during the day. We had gone out a few times at night with a flash light searching the roof and the treetops for them, but never caught site of a single feather.
But last evening – at bed time – Stephen watched as each of the seven birds moved from the back porch and flew to the apex of the roof above the garage. A tall, steep purch, their large clumsy talons gripped the vertex, two males first in line followed by the five hens. The first male, the head of the clan, shuffled to the a-framed edge of the roof at the back of the house. He set his sights on a branch he had deemed suitable. Upon receiving the go for take off, he spread his large wings and lept for the branch, flapping furiously a few times before landing on his destination, which bounched vigorously up and down under the weight of his new resident.
Meanwhile, the line on the roof had move up a spot, each queue member inching up one position and the second in line reading for his turn. They did not all seem as confident as the first, some of them needing a little extra time to muster courage to make the leap. The entire clan showed great patience, however, not squawking or honking to articulate a decided ‘Get on with it!’
Each bird was headed for the same branch that the first bird had deemed suitable and, by the end, like crows on a telephone wire, the seven of them were hudled tightly together in a row, ready for sleep. And there they remained all night. Stephen took me out when i arrived home later and showed me the snoozing brood. This morning, it was the first thing i looked for, the silhouette of the cozy family against the sunrise-infused sky.
It was when i was coming up from the chicken coop this morning, about to get in my car and go to work, that i witness the reverse routine of the birds i hope never go away. The head male flew down from the branch, after what looked like a morning regimen of preening and neck stretches. He moved around the porch and checked things out, made sure i’d left food and fresh water for them, just as they have come to expect from us.
To indicate all clear, he did not honk. Perhaps he had some more inspecting to do. The rest of the brood, meanwhile, began to descend, one by one, from the tall branch they’d called bed, to the roof. Landing with a thud, they each moved themselves back up to the apex which had served as their runway the night before. However, this time, instead of facing forward and up, they were all turned to the side and looking down, toward the porch, waiting, i assume, for the All Clear, so that they could make their way to their suburban oasis and enjoy breakfast.