Posted tagged ‘peacocks’

Peacocks By Design

March 12, 2014

New York City’s three Cathedral peacocks have already begun their annual spring courtship displays in which they unfurl their insanely long, dazzling tail feathers, hold them up in a giant fan, and rotate slowly to enchant the ladies. Here is a video I took a few years ago of one of St John the Divine’s peacocks in fine form.

The boys will be displaying like this all spring and summer, but who do they hope to woo? The nearest peahen is several miles away at the Central Park Zoo or the Bronx Zoo (from which one of the pealadies briefly escaped in 2011).

Still the peacock boys display to anyone and no one.  Yesterday, the white peacock was showing his tail in front of the shed that serves as their roost, while one of the blue peacocks stood alone at the end of the steep driveway, just a few feet from Morningside Drive, with his tail in full sail.

Tails furled or unfurled, peacocks seem to have an innate design sense.

Here the white peacock displays a striking horizontal elegance.

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Down the driveway, his friend advocates for the power and beauty of the vertical.

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For more on the Cathedral peacocks, stay tuned. Or visit our archives.

Snow Day NYC with Peacocks

January 6, 2014

It was cold and snowy in the city on Saturday, so the dog and I bundled up. He’s the one with the blue boots. I’m the one with the blue hat. (My hat recently inspired some guerrilla art.)

Morningside Park is always magical in the snow.

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The little pond was frozen solid.

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A little boy and his father stopped to throw snowballs onto the ice. (Click photos to enlarge.)

Cross-country skiers slid across the fields, and dogs sniffed and romped.

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Heading up the great stone staircase, we spied three feral cats well camouflaged by snow and bare bushes.  Can you spot them? (Click the photos to enlarge.)

A white cat is balanced in the twigs, a gray cat is perched in the wire fence, and a white-and-black cat sits on the snow to the right.

Saint Luke’s Hospital loomed over us as we continued our climb.

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Sledders were at play on the slope just below Morningside Drive.

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On the street, the back of Saint John’s Cathedral invited us to explore.

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We walked over to Amsterdam Avenue and the unfinished towers at the front.

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We entered through the animal gates.

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“Oh, I want to eat his eyes,” exclaimed one of these lively little girls as they circled the snowman below. “They’re made of Hanukkah gelt!”

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Leaving behind the would-be cannibals, we headed into the Cathedral grounds.

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We spotted the resident peacocks. First one.

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Then two.

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And finally, three as Phil, the white peacock, preened inside the peacock house.

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A group of teenagers came clattering up the path. The girls squealed and shrieked when they saw the peacocks, running toward them to take pictures. The birds, accustomed to paparazzi, ignored the girls, even the one shivering in a strapless dress and bare legs. Humans. What can you do?

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We gave a last look up in search of the neighborhood red-tailed hawks, but no hawks today. Just Gabriel forever blowing his horn atop the Cathedral as the stony apostles wait patiently in the cold.

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Urban Peacocks and Red-tails in Winter

December 9, 2013

Last night we saw tiny snowmen on the top of the retaining wall in Riverside Park.

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It wasn’t much of a snow, but it gave a mysterious look to the park at night.

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This morning in the drizzle, a Red-tail Hawk flew low over our heads as we were crossing Amsterdam Avenue. We tracked it as it soared into the animal gates that lead to the grounds of St. John the Divine.

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The hawk soared along the path of the grounds, then suddenly swooped upward. We found it perched with a second hawk towards the back of the cathedral.

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I have only my iPhone camera these days, so I can’t zoom in for a close look. But here it is with a slightly closer look.

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Moments later, as we continued to watch the hawks, Phil, the Cathedral’s white peacock, wandered past us, looking rather bedraggled.

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He was completely unfazed by a boisterous group of schoolkids who almost walked right into him as they came around the corner.

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Phil simply moved aside with no fuss or hurry.

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The dog, on the other hand, was definitely fazed by the sight of Phil. He moaned with frustration and strained at the leash.

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The poor fellow has been trying for a taste of peacock ever since he first encountered the three neighborhood peacocks five years ago.

Ah, well. We all have our dreams.

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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.

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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.

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Keeping a beady eye on us.

We became fascinated by the peacock’s scaly feet.

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Walk like an Egyptian.

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

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Roaming the grounds.

He wandered into the bushes.

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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.

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Neck like blue grass.

He moved into the sunlight.

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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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