How one man learned why six peacocks are better than one

When a beloved pet will get sick, it may be distressing for your complete household. But as Sean Flynn found, it’s particularly dangerous when your pet is a peacock. 

When Carl grew to become sick in February 2018, Flynn desperately wanted to take the fowl to the vet. But how was he meant to catch and subdue a creature not identified for trusting people? 

Flynn’s vet instructed sneaking up on Carl, pinning his wings and clamping his legs. But he needed to be quick, “like milliseconds fast,” the physician suggested — or he may find yourself with a black eye or damaged nostril. 

“They can really get those wings swinging,” his vet stated. 

“What about the talons?” Flynn requested. 

“If he catches you with one of those,” the vet replied, “you’re gonna bleed a lot.” 

Sean Flynn started out with three peacocks on his North Carolina farm, but now has six. The females lay about 30 eggs every summer.
Sean Flynn began out with three peacocks on his North Carolina farm, however now has six. The females lay about 30 eggs each summer season.
Courtesy of Sean Flynn

So Flynn borrowed a web from a fishing buddy and threw it over Carl’s head, then “dropped to my knees and smothered him like a fumbled football,” he writes in his new e book, “Why Peacocks? An Unlikely Search for Meaning in the World’s Most Magnificent Bird” (Simon & Schuster), out now. 

The prognosis was not good — a number of organ failure brought on by lead and zinc poisoning. But with a pricey surgical procedure and medicines used to flush out the metals, Carl made a full restoration. 

It was only the start of the training curve for Flynn and his household. As he explains in his e book, proudly owning peacocks entails much more than admiring their colourful plumage — together with figuring out the best way to shield them from foxes, increasing their coop to accommodate the rising brood, and determining what to do with the eggs that begin showing all around the yard prefer it’s Easter Sunday. 

Calvin Flynn holds peacock Carl in a bag on his way to the vet, after his dad Sean captured the bird with a fishing net.
Calvin Flynn holds peacock Carl in a bag on his option to the vet, after his dad Sean captured the fowl with a fishing web.
Courtesy of Sean Flynn

Flynn had by no means deliberate to personal a peacock. When he and his pregnant spouse Louise, additionally a author, moved from Boston to a farmhouse in North Carolina 13 years in the past, it was for the hotter local weather and open house. 

They adopted a couple of chickens and thought that was it. But then, in July 2017, a textual content got here from a pal and neighbor: “Any chance u guys want a peacock?” 

A neighborhood farmer with over two dozen peacocks, first launched to her household farm in 1977 by her grandfather, was attempting to unload the most recent era as a result of an ideal horned owl had been attacking and killing her flock. 

Flynn was reluctant at first: “I hadn’t wanted any peacocks, for the same reason I’d never wanted koalas or a narwhal,” he writes. But “now that those fantastical birds had been presented as a reasonable proposition, of course I wanted one.” 

Peacocks are usually vicious, but Mr. Pickle (above) gradually started to show affection by taking food from Flynn's hand.
Peacocks are often vicious, however Mr. Pickle (above) step by step began to indicate affection by taking meals from Flynn’s hand.
Courtesy of Sean Flynn

Flynn anticipated simply one fowl, however he ended up with three as a result of, “They’re a social clique.” 

He paid $125 for the trio, which turned out to be a fairly whole lot. On categorized advert websites like Birds Now, peacocks go from a couple of hundred {dollars} to $1,500 every, relying on their fertility, age and breeder. 

Flynn and his household named the peacocks Ethel, Carl and Mr. Pickle. And so, a creature that Flynn and his household had solely seen in zoos grew to become a beast that lived in their very own yard, patrolling “like a sentry in dress uniform . . . every so often throw[ing] up a fabulous spray of feathers.” 

‘I hadn’t wished any peacocks, for a similar motive I’d by no means wished koalas.’

Sean Flynn, writer

The grand shows of plumage usually solely occur throughout mating season, when the males are attempting to draw females. In truth, their spectacular feathers are doubtless the evolutionary results of feminine preferences, “coaxed from the male over untold generations a peculiar beauty that she finds pleasing,” Flynn writes. 

Peacocks originated in Southern Asia and Malaysia, and had been first domesticated in China extra than 4,000 years in the past. King Solomon imported peacocks to Israel almost a thousand years earlier than Christ, and Aristotle was a fan again in 350 B.C. Domesticated peacocks had been imported to American shores within the early nineteenth century, largely as standing symbols for wealthy folks. “Lucky” Baldwin, a land baron who owned extra than 40,000 acres of Los Angeles County, was one of the primary, bringing 50 peacocks to his ranch in 1880. 

It’s unclear what number of peacocks dwell within the United States right now as pets, however the United Peafowl Association, a web based neighborhood of peacock breeders and fans, lists simply 163 members. 

Owning a peacock is a long-term dedication — their common life span is 20 years — and even determining what to feed them may be sophisticated. Flynn was shocked to be taught there are 4 totally different forms of Purina-brand Game Bird Chow. He opted for the “growth-and-plumage maintenance formulation.” 

Martha Stewart (left) keeps 16 peacocks on her 153-acre New York farm. Late author Flannery O’Connor (right) owned at least 40 of the colorful birds.
Martha Stewart (left) retains 16 peacocks on her 153-acre New York farm. Late writer Flannery O’Connor (proper) owned at the very least 40 of the colourful birds.
Getty Images; AP

Owning two males and one feminine was a recipe for catastrophe, he learned, because it was “a sex-fueled cage match waiting to happen.” Peacocks aren’t usually aggressive, however throughout mating season — from late spring to early summer season — they are often violent if there aren’t sufficient females for each obtainable male. 

Mating season may very well be particularly loud, with the males making a shrieking cry to draw females. Flynn compares the sound to the wailing of a dying little one. He was absolutely ready to anger neighbors. “I expected a knock on the door from a city official or a peeved, sleepy-eyed stranger,” he writes. “But it never came.” 

Flynn's full flock: four females and two males, to keep the balance right.
Flynn’s full flock: 4 females and two males, to maintain the stability proper.
Courtesy of Sean Flynn

Looking for individuals who shared his new obsession, Flynn traveled to Kansas City, Miss., in October 2018 for the twenty fifth annual conference for members of the United Peafowl Association. There had been shows on the best way to free vary birds, the most recent developments in peafowl vitamin, and seminars on the best way to study fecal samples for parasites, “with both microscopes and poop provided,” Flynn writes. (Peacocks are significantly inclined to worm infestations and different parasites, and their excrement must be frequently inspected.) 

He additionally met like-minded hobbyists and severe collectors. At a bar in Kansas City, Flynn shared peacock tales with Ray Watts from Macon, Ga., who claimed he as soon as offered peacocks to (the late) writer Flannery O’Connor, proprietor of at the very least 40 of the birds. O’Connor was so enamored by peacocks, “she decorated letters and gifts with feathers . . . and tucked the birds into her stories as scenery and symbols,” writes Flynn. 

Today, well-known peacock homeowners embrace Martha Stewart, who has 16 of the birds roaming freely on her 153-acre farm in Bedford, NY, and the late Hugh Hefner, who stored a number of at his Playboy Mansion zoo. 

But after foxes began prowling Flynn’s property, he couldn’t permit his flock to wander round unprotected. He constructed a brand new pen with heavy-gauge wire, which shielded his peacocks from predators but additionally took a few of the pleasure out of proudly owning them. 

“It’s like the tree that falls in the forest: Is a peacock still magnificent if he can’t be admired from outside the garbage coop?” he writes. 

Still, Flynn continued so as to add to his assortment: with three extra females as a result of the UPA “recommended a four-to-one ratio of girls to boys.” 

Why Peacocks

Caring for his peacocks grew to become a full-time job. During the summer season of 2018, the females laid 30 eggs, every of them beige and roughly two instances the scale of a hen egg. Flynn and his household may have eaten or offered them — peacock eggs promote from wherever from $8 to $40 per egg on-line — however he opted as a substitute to donate all of them to a neighborhood veterinary nurse, who was elevating geese, peacocks, and different rescue birds on her farm. 

Today, Flynn, 56, and his teenage sons Calvin, 15, and Emmett, 13, are enamored with their flock, although they’ve by no means established an intimacy with them. Peacocks, in any case, won’t ever snuggle in your lap, purring as you stroke their chin, like most conventional pets. 

But Flynn did make a reference to Mr. Pickle, who lastly trusted him sufficient to eat a blueberry from his open palm. And generally, when he visits his birds, they sit and hearken to him as he talks. 

“They are comfortable with me,” Flynn writes. “I take some strange pride in that fact.”

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