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Indira

Started: 2014-06-24 21:06:57

Submitted: 2014-06-24 21:41:00

Visibility: World-readable

In which the intrepid narrator finds that his backyard has been colonized by a rogue Indian peahen

I went snow-climbing up Lamb's Slide on the east face of Long's Peak on Saturday and returned to civilization to find a text message waiting for me from Kiesa telling me that there was a peacock in our back yard. I pulled over to text back, "Pics or it didn't happen". (She had already taken pictures; in fact, this ended up confusing my photo-editing scripts, which assume that, given a photo and a GPS track, the two overlap, since while hiking I tend to take pictures while holding my GPS receiver.)

Indian peahen walking through the backyard
Indian peahen walking through the backyard

I returned home to find a large bird sitting under the overgrown juniper in the far corner of the yard. (I had climbed to 13,000 feet in my local national park and barely seen a marmot or two; I had to come home to see a peacock.) Kiesa had already called animal control, who had sent an officer out who merely managed to chase the bird onto the neighbor's roof. Now that the bird had returned, Kiesa called him back, and he returned with a net gun, but he didn't get a chance to use it; the bird saw him coming and darted along the fence, eventually jumping the fence and running up our neighbor's driveway to return to our neighbor's roof. It harassed our neighbor's dog and eventually disappeared. The animal control officer gave up and left.

Animal control attempts to apprehend a rogue peahen
Animal control attempts to apprehend a rogue peahen

By evening, the bird had returned to roost on the crest of our neighbor's roof. I searched the Internet for information about peacocks and decided that the bird was a female Indian peacock. (Technically "peacock" refers to the male bird; "peafowl" is the generic name for the entire genus, "peahen" is the female bird, and "peachick" is the juvenile.) We had a female bird, so she didn't have the flashy display of the male bird, but she was still quite striking.

Indian peahen roosting on the neighbor's roof
Indian peahen roosting on the neighbor's roof

The peahen returned to our yard on Sunday morning and spent most of the day walking around the yard foraging for food and trying to stay out of our way. When I'd approach to within a few meters she'd scurry off, either to the other side of the yard on her large feet or occasionally up on the roof. (She was a large bird with stubby wings; she flew awkwardly and slowly like an A380.) She spent much of the day looking in the French doors into the family room, seeming to watch us to try to figure out what we were doing. She was a hypnotizing presence; we'd stare back and watch her watch us, or prance around while pushing her neck back and forth like a piston.

Indian peahen walks through the back yard
Indian peahen walks through the back yard

I decided to name her Indira, after India's prime minister Indira Gandhi, on account of her Indian origin and her multi-colored plumage. The bird did not show any signs of seizing dictatorial powers for herself, though she did exhibit a regal sense of entitlement.

Indian peahen sits on the sandbox
Indian peahen sits on the sandbox

By Monday, Kiesa decided we didn't actually want to adopt a peahen, so she called animal control back, but they failed to recapture Indira despite several attempts on Monday and Tuesday. So right now we still have the bird roosting on our neighbor's roof and hiding out in the corner of our yard during the day.

Well aren't *we* the superior ones? Reveling in our great awareness as we
march into the ocean, fully cognizant of the destination to which *our*
herd of lemmings plunges? ;)
- Bitscape, 23 May 2000