Posted tagged ‘how many vertebrae to birds have’

My NYC Home Where the Peacocks Roam

October 4, 2012
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

Peacock!

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

Gorgeous.

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

that

I’ve already researched and written

about

the extraordinary cervical flexibility

of long-necked birds.

Birds have at least

thirteen

and as many as

twenty-five

cervical vertebrae.

Humans, by contrast, like all mammals,

have a mere

seven.

And  some animals, notably frogs, have

only

one.

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

Lurking.

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


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