In the early evening on Hurricane Sunday, after Irene had blown by, I headed over to Saint John the Divine to find out how Morningside Heights’s three neighborhood peacocks had weathered the storm.
Some restaurants were open, and the city was returning to life. On Amsterdam Avenue, kids hid out behind a car parked in front of the Hungarian Pastry Shop.
At Saint John’s, small branches tried to block passage through the lovely cast iron gates.
On the cathedral grounds, treetops swayed in the gusting wind.
Despite downed leaves and twigs, the Biblical garden looked as peaceful and orderly as ever.
Outside the garden, one peacock loafed about in front of the coop he shares with two other peacocks. See that elongated speck below the windows? That’s him.
Let’s take a closer look.
But wait a minute: what happened to his tail feathers?
When last seen several weeks ago, the gentleman had been standing on top of his shack, and he was stylin’.
It’s tempting to imagine that the poor guy lost his tail feathers struggling like Lear against the hurricane’s winds and rain. But in truth, we can’t blame Irene for his diminishment. It’s simply that time of year.
As summer comes to an end, peacocks shed their dazzling breeding plumage. In early spring, they’ll regrow those glorious tail feathers in preparation for the summer mating season, when they strut and shiver their spread tails to attract peahens. From April to July or August, the peacocks of Morningside Heights shake their tail feathers at every opportunity, even though they are all males and have no contact with potential mates. They don’t seem to care who, or even what, they shake their booty for. The white peacock regularly displayed his glory to an indifferent hedge.
Although I only spotted one peacock, the security guard assured me that all three had come through the storm with, er, flying colors. I walked on to Morningside Park (about which, more soon), then turned toward home.
Blue skies broke over Columbus Avenue.