Posted tagged ‘white peacock’

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.

IMG_0133

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

IMG_0139

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

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

Peacock Razzle-Dazzle

November 22, 2011

As leaves drop from the trees and the city grows more monochromatic day by day, I offer you a dazzling reminder of late spring, when the three peacock boys of Saint John the Divine just couldn’t stop showing off their big, beautiful tail feathers.

The boys have lost their tail feathers for the season, now. In October, when I took the photos below, the birds were in varying stages of molt.

The single all-white peacock had lost his long, trailing tail feathers,

Thus peacock is regularly found staring into hedges and other vegetation.

as had this classically colored fellow, who appeared to be wearing a gaudy silk shirt with old, brown corduroys.

Mismatched

The bird on the right was still flaunting some long, green eye-feathers.

Just hangin' out, waiting for something to happen.

They’re all gone now, the tail feathers. But don’t worry.  In just a few more months, as trees bud and grass greens, the feathers will grow back, and the birds will be displaying again, in all their splendor.

This is a rear view (in case you're trying to figure out where the head is).

Until then, take pleasure in autumn, because it’s passing, and winter, because, like it or  not, it’s on its way.

Wandering Peacocks of NYC

September 9, 2011

Peacock in April in fresh breeding feathers.

The free-roaming peacocks of the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine on Amsterdam Avenue exert a strange fascination.

The white peacock bears an uncanny resemblance to my paternal grandmother in her later years.

In June, when a maintenance man rattled a cookie tin filled with food, the white peacock eagerly hopped a fence and positively hustled to get some chow.

Hustlin'

The peacock chowed down.

Puttin' on the feed bag

He appeared completely unfazed by a large troop of day campers traipsing noisily past.

Just another peacock sighting

and greedily gobbled his bird chow.

Staring down dinner.

Three male peacocks, gifts from the Bronx Zoo, roam all over the Cathedral grounds. The maintenance man told me that when the birds first arrived as young fellows, they would wander into the neighborhood, prompting worried phone calls from residents: “Hey, I just saw one of your peacocks over on Broadway.”  Someone from the Cathedral would head over to collect the errant bird and bring it home.

As far as I know, the Cathedral birds now stay close to home.  But a desire to ramble seems to regularly overtake New York City peacocks and peahens. In May 2011, a peahen bolted from the Bronx Zoo.

Peahen in Bronx Street (credit: ALDAG/AFP/Getty Images)

After several days of sightings and capture attempts, the bird was nabbed in a Bronx parking garage, and returned to the zoo. “In general,” said zoo director Jim Breheny, the zoo’s peacocks are “not inclined to leave the property, but for some reason this bird just got curious.”

A few months later in August, strollers on Fifth Avenue were startled by the sight of a peacock perched outside a fifth floor window.  The bird turned out to be an escapee from the Central Park Zoo.

Peacock rests on window ledge high above Fifth Avenue. Photo: Mike Segar/Reuters.

Zoo officials maintained that the peacock was likely to return home of its own accord and, after a night of adventurous sightseeing (and some serious tweeting), the bird did just that.

The Cathedral peacocks have already molted, losing most of their gorgeous breeding plumage and, until spring, will resemble the more modestly feathered peahen.

Mostly molted peacock

Check back soon to find out what Flannery O’Connor thought of peacocks and to see more photos of the Saint John’s trio.

NYC Peacock on Hurricane Sunday

August 30, 2011

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.

Great White Peacock of Morningside Heights

April 15, 2011

I love my NYC neighborhood.  Where else in Manhattan do the strange cries of peacocks echo through city streets?

Regal? Yes. Bright? Um...

Three gorgeous, pin-headed, tiara-wearing peacock boys freely strut their stuff through the grounds of the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine.  A recent stroll found the sole white peacock repeatedly displaying his astonishing tail to a green hedge.

The Great White Peacock of Morningside Heights spent a long time staring at, or into, the hedge.

Staring at the wall

I mean, a long time. As in minutes.

Getting a closer look.

But eventually, whether he found inspiration in the hedge or simply got bored, he began to display.

Opening...

Swirling ...

Revolving ...

Let’s do that again.

Opening ...

Raising ...

Spreading ...

Swirling ...

Raising ...

Profile ...

Lowering ...

Furling ...

And we’re back to contemplating the hedge …

Whats in there?

Check back soon for a look at the colored peacock in action…

Two-Eyed Prophecy of Spring

March 14, 2011

To gain wisdom and a vision of the future, Odin drank from Mimir’s well, and plucked out his own right eye to pay Mimir’s price.

Odin's right eye still stares up from the bottom of Mimir's well. Illustration by Willy Pogany from The Children of Odin, Padraic Colum's beautiful retelling of Norse sagas

Here is my two-eyed prophecy for New York.

I have read the signs, natural and man-made, that tell the truth of the world, and the signs say:

Spring is coming. Prepare, prepare.

Spring! Spring! Spring!

Look at the signs, and interpret for yourself:

The Sign of Flowers:

First flowers in Riverside Park

The Sign of Spring Training:

Hitters on the Hudson.

The Sign of Multi-tasking Outdoor Muses

Playing the trumpet while reading the paper

The Sign of Al Fresco Dining

Starling gang fight over free pizza

The Sign of Strange Sports

Stylin' Frenchmen play bocce ball in Morningside Park.

The Sign of Mister Softee

La dee da la dee da la dee da … Somebody, please, get that tune out of my head!

The Sign of Bare Legs Despite Still-Bare Branches

Bare branches, bare legs

The Sign of Peacocks at Saint John the Divine

Blue guardian of the eastern wall

Skulker in the southern garden

And on every street: The Sign of Tiny Winged Macho Men Singing for World Domination

Small but fierce

These signs deciphered mean: spring.
O my prophetic soul!
Mark me:
Within a month, the secret garden of Saint John’s will explode into pinks and yellows.
All over the city, what grass there is will green.
In the parks, birds and squirrels will nest.
And the crack of baseball bats on balls will be heard throughout the city.
Rejoice.
Though the way be dark before us and cold rain fall,
yet spring approaches.

April 2010: Garden on the grounds of Saint John the Divine

White Birds of NYC

April 21, 2010

White birds abound on a walk through Morningside Park and the nearby grounds of Saint John the Divine.

A lone egret, its long breeding plumes flowing in the breeze, fishes beneath the waterfall in the well-stocked waters of Morningside’s tiny pond.

On the other side of the pond, a white rock pigeon wanders away from its flock. I wonder if this bird is an escapee from a pigeon fancier. It is particularly plump and sleek, and exudes health and well-being. The pigeon heads for the muddy banks of the pond, where it lowers its head and sucks water through its beak as if through a straw.

I head up the cliff and across Morningside Avenue to Saint John’s, where a white peacock guards the grounds. It stands very still in one spot for a long time, occasionally emitting a sound like a truck horn followed by a wild cry. From somewhere out of sight comes a response.

The white peacock lives on the cathedral grounds with two brightly colored comrades. The white pigeon is a member of a multi-colored flock that regularly forages on the large patch of grass in front of the pond. The white egret appears to be a regular visitor to the pond this spring.

You can go months in New York and not see a pure white bird.  Here are three different species within a few minutes walk of each other. Lovely birds, all.

Saint John the Divine: A Secret Garden in Morningside Heights

April 19, 2010

The grounds of Saint John the Divine Cathedral in Morningside Heights are stunning.

The secret garden at Saint John the Divine

They are also open to the community for strolling and contemplation.Peacocks roam freely through the gardens.

White peacock strolls in its gardens

or parade along ledgesWhenever they choose, the peacocks can retire to their large coop to watch the world go byFlowers bloom everywhere

and brass birds keep watch

Crazy Mohawk bird

Griffon in the garden

Friendly dove

At the back of the Cathedral, high above Morningside Heights, a pair of red-tailed hawks nest on the shoulders of a long-suffering saint

Photo by rbs at bloomingdalevillage.blogspot.com

Saint John the Divine is a magical place. Come visit.

Please stop by Bloomingdale Village for more photos of Saint John’s resident hawks. Although I have not seen them, the babies have apparently hatched.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,226 other followers

%d bloggers like this: