Pete the Peacock remains on the loose approximately two months after escaping from New Brunswick Garden – New Brunswick
Pete the Peacock flew the chicken coop on his first night at Kingsbrae Garden on New Brunswick’s South Shore. That was about two months ago – and it’s been a wild goose chase ever since.
The fowl arrived on June 16 in the town of Saint Andrews and were quarantined before the year-old peacock could be shown to others.
« The next morning – Saturday morning – the cage was empty, » said Brad Henderson, general manager of Kingsbrae Garden, a public garden that describes itself on its website as a « multi-award winning 27-acre horticultural masterpiece « .
Garden staff « thought the worst, » Henderson said in an interview Monday, because the area has a fox on the loose. But even before the garden authorities could publicize the bird on the loose, they began to receive calls about a peacock in the neighborhood.
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“It gave us hope that the peacock survived, but unfortunately for a month we haven’t heard anything. Nobody saw a peacock. No one reports a peacock,” Henderson said.
« So we don’t know what to think anymore. »
A little digging by garden staff revealed a hole near Pete’s enclosure that was dug from the outside – meaning something could have gotten in. But aside from a few stray feathers, there was nothing « too worrisome » — like blood — so it’s possible the bird is alive, Henderson said.
« There’s like a branch and stuff the peacock could climb on, » he said. « So what we were hoping was that indeed a fox dug, but the peacock jumped where the fox couldn’t catch it, and then the fox left. The bird just came out of the same hole.
Garden authorities posted a note on Facebook on June 21 asking people to contact them if they see a peacock.
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« If you spot a random peacock in or around town, chances are it’s ours, » the post said. “We have a brand new one who doesn’t know where ‘home’ is. Please reach out if you see him! »
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About two weeks after Pete disappeared, a peacock was spotted hanging in a tree in Fredericton, about an hour and a half drive from Saint Andrews. Garden authorities checked the photo and determined by head feathers that it was not Pete.
« I don’t know what the odds are of having two peacocks roaming free in New Brunswick, but that’s what happened to us, » Henderson said with a laugh.
Nick Lund, a network manager for Maine Audubon, described peacocks – India’s official bird – as « quite hardy ».
Indian peacocks, as they are officially called, are regular escapees or wanderers from places where they are kept at home or as pets, he said in an email.
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“They are not likely to fly very far and prefer to walk. The bird is unlikely to have gone very far, as it usually does not migrate. In most places — like this garden, I guess — they’re often not caged or restrained because they don’t tend to roam,” Lund said.
« The bird will be fine outside until winter. »
« Not the easiest thing to catch »
The garden has two other peacocks and three peacocks in residence. About six years ago, a peacock named Nelson ran off the property and landed on a neighborhood golf course.
« The hard part is catching them, isn’t it? » said Henderson. « They’re not the easiest thing to catch. They’re pretty quick – pretty smart. But we finally managed to catch up with him.
Since then, he said garden staff have been spending more time with Nelson, letting him know food is readily available with them. The bird has not left since.
Henderson said the peacocks’ wings are unclipped and the birds are free to roam. Usually they choose to stay in the garden because it’s relatively safe – except for the pesky fox. The garden is also home to ducks and alpacas, all of which are now brought to safety in enclosures each night so they don’t become food for foxes.
« I call it a nuisance, » he said of the fox. « We hope he will go his own way and leave the garden, or you know, go back to the woods in the countryside. »
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Since his escape, Pete has managed to evade cameras and attention, although there have been a number of false alarms.
“Someone called to tell us that he had seen the peacock. When we went it was a turkey. A wild turkey,” he said.
« And someone said he heard it in his garden and when we went to his garden it was a frog. »
Henderson hopes Pete thrives wherever he is and eats lots of his favorite berries, leaves and insects.
« He could literally be anywhere in the whole province, » he said. « Saint Andrews is on the coast of Maine – so maybe even internationally. »
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on August 30, 2022.
© 2022 The Canadian Press