In YAM’s new feature, we take a close — a really close — look at a distinctive aspect of Victoria life. This issue: Beacon Hill Park’s roaming peafowl.
BY JOANNE SASVARI
Don’t be surprised if you catch a glimpse of iridescent greeny-blue feathers in an Oak Bay garden or a Douglas Street doorway, if you hear a raucous cry at 3 a.m. or come back after a nice dinner to find a few dings in your just-washed car. The Beacon Hill peacocks are on the prowl. And not everyone is thrilled about it.
The first India Blue peafowl arrived in Victoria in 1891; today, an estimated 40 or so peahens (female) and peacocks (male, the ones with the spectacular plumage) are living wild in the park and, especially since COVID, meandering through nearby neighbourhoods. Some people love them, and why not? They are majestically beautiful as they strut serenely down city streets.
Others are less enamoured. Peafowl are, after all, an invasive species, though somewhat less toxic than giant hogweed. Worse, the males have a distressingly loud mating call and like to find spots (like apartment courtyards) that amplify their distinctive yowl, especially late at night when you’re trying to catch your Zs. They have also been known to attack their own reflection in shiny surfaces like your car door. Have fun explaining that to ICBC.
Still, peacocks are the closest thing we have to the magical beasts of mythology. They are considered sacred by some cultures and are associated with immortality, rebirth and all-seeingness. And, love them or hate them, they add a quirky splash of colour to the Victoria scene.