“AN OSTENTATION OF PEACOCKS”: FERAL BIRDS ON ABACO
A year or so ago I wrote a post entitled SOMETHING COMPLETELY “DIFFERENT (OF ABACO)”, a nod to Monty Python and to Nettica Symonette’s long-defunct fishing lodge on the road to Casuarina that it still proudly signposted on the Highway. You can click the link to see the full post and plenty of peacocks. Or, as I mentioned then, peafowl (only the males are peacocks; the females are peahens; and the little ones are peachicks).
“Different of Abaco” is a great place for birding. An overgrown wilderness with brackish ponds and a *dangerous structure alert* dilapidated building, it was once home to Nettie’s flamingos, reintroduced by her in the hope of reinstating Abaco’s lost breeding population. The experiment did not come off, but another one did. The legacy of her introduction of a few peacocks is very evident today: they have bred very successfully and provide an exotic – and noisy – addition to the breeding bird species on Abaco.
The evidence from reports suggests that the peafowl are spreading from their base at Different of Abaco and the local Casuarina area. Celia Rogers saw 2 males on the Cherokee road, some 3 or 4 miles to the north. And Rhonda Pearce has more recently found them at the entrance to Bahama Palm Shores, some way to the south (below).
Extent of peafowl range from reported sightings
As I wrote before, “In the wilderness that Different of Abaco has become for many years, the descendants of the original peacocks are breeding contentedly, expanding their population, and are wholly unreliant on human intervention. Verily feral, in fact”. If anyone has encountered peacocks elsewhere than in the DoA / Casuarina area, I’d love to hear about it. A photo would be a bonus!
OPTIONAL FUN FACTS
The collective noun for peafowl is generally considered to be a “pride”, as with lions. But many bird species have been assigned more than one collective noun – and many of the more unusual ones are historic, dating back to medieval times, in particular The Boke of St Albans (1486) by a nun called Dame Juliana Berners, which included lists of collective nouns for ‘companys of beestys and fowlys’. These were known as ‘terms of venery’, and many related to falconry and hunting. She also wrote the presumed first fishing guide, A treatyse of fysshynge wyth an Angle (her catch records do not survive).
Anyway, apart from ‘pride’, peacocks are also collectively known as a ‘muster’; and far more descriptively as an ‘ostentation’.
Credits: All peafowl Rhonda Pearce; final image π “The Abacos” online
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I remember them being at Different of Abaco, a bonefishing lodge run by Nettie Symonette who also introduced Flamingoes. The adults were pinioned but some of the young were not and escaped the enclosure during a hurricane and were seen locally for some time.
The Peacocks seem to be doing quite well and are often seen in a group near the highway going to Casurina Point.
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we just saw a pea hen and her chick this morning crossing the road into casuarina point, right before the road turns left 🙂
Thanks for the report. They are not unusual there, and originate from the defunct ‘Different of Abaco’ Lodge. The new breed of chicks shows the continuing strength of the breeding population. There will come a time when these birds will be counted as part of scenery – like bobwhites – rather than an introduced species. RH
It’s nice to know the Peacocks are doing well on Abaco. They are such gorgeous creatures. Other introduced birds still surviving here are Ring-necked Pheasants and Wild Turkeys. We can only hope the hunters will leave them alone. Such has not been the case with the Northern Bobwhite,
But it is hanging on none-the-less. None of these introduced species are doing any harm and they are a pleasure to encounter in the wild. Lets do what we can to preserve them here.
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Hi Woody, this was the first report + photo I’d had of peacocks as far south as BPS. I don’t suppose they have many predators as adults, though the eggs and chicks are presumably vulnerable to the usual suspects. I can’t imagine hunters wanting to… on second thoughts, maybe I can!
Might it be possible to ‘spot list’ an introduced species as protected, I wonder?
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Thanks for calling in at Rolling Harbour!