People flock to Victoria’s Beacon Hill Park to see the peacocks.
“Tons of peacocks all around me. They run to me,” laughed Jacquie, who lives in James Bay and frequents the park. “This park is the best park I’ve ever been to.”
You could say the male peafowls — the peacocks — tickle visitors’ feathers because of their beauty, which is something bird experts marvel at.
“Like really gorgeous birds,” said Ann Nightingale with the Rocky Point Bird Observatory. “They’re hard not to love,” added Jannaca Chick, who’s also with the observatory.
So park-goers are often amazed.
“There are people asking, ‘I just saw a peacock in Victoria. Is that for real?’ Yeah, there are upwards of 60 of them roaming around,” said Ted Hartley, business manager at the Beacon Hill Children’s Farm, which is often bordered by peacocks.
But with winter coming, where do they go?
Turns out, they don’t leave. They’re here year-round and have been for more than a century. Originating from the Indian subcontinent, they like the heat but adapt to cooler temperatures.
“They’ve been here since about 1893,” recalled Nightingale. But back then, they weren’t free to roam. They were kept at the old Beacon Hill Zoo.
“It was a very horrible place. It was before they understood…how they had to function and how to treat the animals,” said Hartley.
“When it finally ended, the peacocks were just set loose.”
So now these domesticated birds have made this place their stomping grounds, even if they do ruffle some feathers. Nightingale describes them as “messy birds” and says they’re noisy too, especially during spring mating season.
They’re famous for their fan of feathers, which attracts peahens, and their squawk.
“It’s very, very loud and insistent,” said Chick. “People do lose sleep over that.”
Call them tricksters because their feathers “have no pigment in them, at all. It’s really the way the light bounces off them that gives them that blue,” explained Nightingale.
Making local headlines
It was back in July 2020 when a park-fleeing peacock made local headlines. Animal control officers had to evict the bird from an apartment entrance after it got too comfortable and attacked a resident.
So Nightingale says never pick one up because it could hurt you.
“On the legs of the peacocks, you’ll notice on the males that they have a very long spur. And that spur is sharp. So if there was an altercation, let’s say someone tried to grab a peacock, it would fight back with that spur, and it could be quite dangerous,” she added.
“Certainly, a lot of people in the Fairfield and James Bay areas find them on their yards and roofs.”
But back at the park is where you’ll spot them — on the ground most of the day and asleep in trees at night. “It’s definitely an attraction to the park. That, along with the ducks. And people love to bring their children to see these birds,” added Chick.
Because the animals in this park also do some good.
“I can’t explain in words how many times I’ve met ex-military, RCMP, first responders that come on their own now to sit and have a quiet time with the animals. And I can physically watch the stress melt away,” added Hartley.
All thanks to a visit to Beacon Hill Park — a visit with the peacocks.