My NYC Home Where the Peacocks Roam

pears on a platter

Home, where pears from the CSA ripen under the watchful eyes of goat and god

After spending the better part of September on eastern Long Island,

pier on Mecox bay

Esau the dog approaches the void.

I’m home in NYC, where fall has thinned the trees in Riverside Park.

Riverside Park early fall

Riverside Park in early fall: more view, less green

Home in the city, where the peacocks roam.

white peacock saint john the divine

Phil, the white peacock, plays hide and seek in the foliage.

Our first day back, the dog and I visited the grounds of Saint John the Divine to check in on the three free-roaming peacock boys.  We looked in the Biblical garden, our urban secret garden, but saw no peacocks.

secret garden in new york city

New York City’s secret garden in early fall

No peacocks on the way to the garden’s romantic arbor.

romantic spot

Best place for a private talk or a moment alone.

No peacocks at the leafy throne.

secret places, NYC

Another favorite seat in the secret garden.

And no peacocks on the way out of the garden.

entrance to st john biblical garden

On the way out of the garden.

Suddenly we heard three loud squawking cries: Peacocks!  We followed the sound and, slipping into a half-hidden construction storage area, we found:

peacock in fall


The peacocks drop their glorious long tail feathers long before New York City’s trees drop their leaves.  But that’s all right. The diminished splendor of the tail leaves us more able to appreciate the subtler beauty of their speckled wings and rusty underfeathers that perfectly match the piles of brick.

peacock and bricks


The peacock preened, turning his neck this way

preening peacock

preening peacock

and that, putting more kinks into it than seems possible

peacock bendy neck

Peacock neck with many curves

However do they do that?

I wondered.

bird cervical vertebrae

And then I remembered


I’ve already researched and written


the extraordinary cervical flexibility

of long-necked birds.

Birds have at least


and as many as


cervical vertebrae.

Humans, by contrast, like all mammals,

have a mere


And  some animals, notably frogs, have



Really. One.

You can read all about it here, in

Bird Neck Appreciation Day.

But I digress.

Let us return

to the peacock,

who continued

to bend and twist, with most impressive dexterity.

Cleaning up.

We watched for a while.

close-up peacock against bricks

Elegance in the brick yard. Note the tail of a reclining squirrel in upper left.

And we, in turn, were watched.

peacock watching

Keeping a beady eye on us.

We became fascinated by the peacock’s scaly feet.

peacock feet

Walk like an Egyptian.

Eventually, we headed back into the open grounds, where we found the white peacock known as Phil.

phil white peacock

Roaming the grounds.

He wandered into the bushes.

white peacock in greenery

Phil amid the foliage.

He lurked among the flowers.

white peacock with fall flowers


On our way out of the grounds, we found the third peacock in the grasses near Amsterdam Avenue.

peacock in fall grasses

Walking in the grass.

We stopped to watch.

peacock st john's

Neck like blue grass.

He moved into the sunlight.

peacock grazing

Feeding in sunlight.

And then we left.

Oh, it’s good be home.

fall fruit and vegetable

Time for squash soup and a slice of baby watermelon.

Further reading on the urban peacocks of Saint John the Divine:

Great White Peacock of Morningside Heights
NYC Peacocks and Blossoms
Peacock Razzle-Dazzle (with video)
Wandering Peacocks of NYC
NYC Peacocks on Hurricane Sunday
Spring in Three Cities
Two-Eyed Prophecy of Spring
White Birds of NYC

Explore posts in the same categories: 2012, Birds, Fall, In the City, NYC Parks, Peacocks, Riverside Park, Seasons, Wildlife/Natural History

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6 Comments on “My NYC Home Where the Peacocks Roam”

  1. Andre Says:

    I’ve only seen a white peacock once… on a friend’s family property in Jamaica – West Indies – not the neighborhood in Queens… Speaking of Queens – I wonder how that peacock that belonged to some school is doing. The neighborhood sure got a kick out of him roaming around for 2 weeks. You could see even in the news clips the cops thought it was cool and didn’t really want to capture it – lolol. Then there was the one that escaped from the Bronx Zoo. I NY is peacock town now :) One thing I recall from the ones in Jamaica is that the males are very territorial during mating season…. they don’t like human interference in that time.

    • Hi Andre, That Queens peacock story was pretty funny. That school did get their peacock back, and I believe they made sure his wings were clipped. There was a peacock on the loose from the Central Park Zoo, last year, that perched on a fifth floor window ledge. That would be quite a change from the usual pigeons on the ledge. You can see a photo (not by me) in my post, Wandering Peacocks of NYC .

      As for mating season, the three peacocks I watch at St John’s are all males. The fact that there are no females for miles around doesn’t stop them from displaying their tails every chance they get. But maybe it does keep them from being as territorial as the ones you remember from Jamaica, because they seem as casual as ever with the many humans around. Interesting…

  2. Barbara Says:

    My oh my – those beautiful birds, the “still life” of your pears and squash awaiting it’s transformation into soup! Welcome home Esau and Melissa – your sojourn on the ocean was beautiful and now we can share the wonder of your view of NYC – thanks for it all… (love those peacocks)

  3. Charlotte Says:

    Your still lifes look like paintings. Ah it IS good to be home, isn’t it, and to have you back blogging about NY, Riverside Drive and peacocks! (I also like how the neck section came out!)

  4. Anne Camille Says:

    I used to stay frequently with a friend who lived across Amsterdam from St J the Divine. I heard the birds more than I saw them, but they were always lovely to espy. My friend moved elsewhere in Manhattan a few years ago. Hadn’t thought about the peacocks in a few years. Makes me a bit “homesick” for NYC and the days when business travel took me there regularly.

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