29 November 2023


In early February 2 tiny peachicks hatched at my place.

Pea 1 and Pea 2 look up to their mum about 20000 times a day.

Mrs Pops has been a great first-time mother. With his babes running around, their father, Mr Pops, immediately lost the display feathers. Who needs to carry a 3-meter train to impress the ladies with chicks on the ground? 

Because he's titchy when his feathers are regrowing, the peachicks need to watch out for him. Like a lion, he has to eat first. If they're in his way, P1 and P2 get pecked on the head.

Mrs Pops has regained her full weight and then some, making up for the starvation diet while sitting on eggs. In their first week, she taught P1 and  P2 to hunt by pointing her beak at insects. The chicks rush to it, competing for each bug. 

They spend 12 hours a day eating bugs, small grass shoots, and weeds, loving spiders best of all. Mrs Pops glances at the sky every 15 seconds, to make sure they're safe.

I put plain Greek yogurt out to give them a hit of protein, as well as budgerigar food, wild bird mix, corn, grapes, veggie scraps, and sunflower seeds on big family-sized share plates.

Mrs Pops loves her partner best without his dazzling eye feathers. The month-long egg-laying separation was hard on them. Head down, depressed, and barely eating, he kept his distance for the chick's first weeks; guarding without drawing attention to his blue neck.

He'd cry out warning squawks when a hawk, eagle, or international aircraft flew overhead. (We're under the flight path so they run for cover when those giant jet birds cross the sky.)

Coming close to the nursery cage, he'd preen Mrs Pops through the bars at first. The adult pair delicately attended to the mites on the other's eyelashes. It is the most intimate thing to watch, like a peacock love affair. 

Roosting is difficult. Finally, after many tries, and an hour's delay, the chicks can fly up to the horizontal branch. Their mother sits on them, rain, hail, or high winds. 

Mrs Pops trained the chicks to respond to her calls; making a noise like a dinosaur when a predator, swooped past the house. I saw one of the world's largest eagles fly just above the clothesline. 

Despite eagles, hawks, meat-eating birds, and goannas, the worst threat was a fox or an owl. Mrs Pops flies down at first light. Loud honking woke me at 6 am. Outside with a torch, I saw her strutting and wheezing, searching the ground. 


After 2 hours the peahen emerged from the garage with P1 running beneath her tail. Forty minutes later, P2 emerged. The whole family reunited, and I popped them in the large, lockable, goat cage. Mum sat on them, closing her eyes to recover from the morning's trauma. Whenever a chick emerged, she pecked their heads as if to say:

 "Get back under and go to sleep!" 

The adult peacock's favorite food is the insects stuck in the grill after we've been out driving. When they hear the car going in the garage then rush to devour the 'fresh fried bugs'. It looks like a suicide attempt as the family plunge towards the moving vehicle. I guess hot, takeaway food is at a premium. 

Bigger now, the chicks have tiny crowns. Gawky and awkward, they're still kind of cute. They can run, fly, and hide. They survived storms, wonky flights, and any number of things that wanted to eat them. The family of Peacocks survived, but I wouldn't have bet money on it. 

After June, the peachicks refused to be sat on. Instead, they roosted beside their mother. Sometimes the best moment of my day is heading outside to be mobbed by 2 big and 2 little peacocks who can't wait to see what I've brought to fill their bellies. And, I wouldn't want it any other way. 

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