The Plan 2.0

It’s midnight on Tuesday. I have to be at work in seven hours and yet, here I am, balanced ever so precariously atop an unstable ladder, one foot barely touching and the other easing its way onto the eave of a garage and pool house combination. The shingles are cold through my shirt and have already scraped me. In one hand is the biggest fishing net I’ve ever seen (it’s for catching muskie: big muskie) and in the other is the edge of the roof as I try to oh-so-slowly climb onto it.

I see movement at the peak of the roof, so I freeze: I lay there, still and unmoving, most of me on the roof and the rest of me not. My leg is slowly falling asleep and my neck is beginning to cramp from the awkward position. I risk a look towards the peak of the roof: the silhouette moves. I’m spotted.

Lying as I was on the roof, I couldn’t help but feel a pang of nostalgia. (Mom, Dad: plug your ears for this next bit.) Sneaking around somebody’s backyard in the middle of the night isn’t really new to me. I managed a bit of youthful mischief when I was younger. And now, it would seem, I am to put it to good use. I’m trying to catch what should be a sleeping peacock, but it is definitely not sleeping. Its head flicks in that spastic way birds have as it tries to see me more clearly. I can barely focus on the bird because behind it is a streetlight shining. Since when did they make them so bright?

“It’s awake” I whisper to Jenn. She’s holding the ladder for me. Our plan didn’t involve an alert bird. “Go slow.” she offers.

Roughly a week ago, one of the ladies at work told Jenn’s dad that she had a peacock in her yard. He’d eat seeds during the day and roost on her pool house at night. She and her husband were not able to catch it, but she wanted to get rid of it and wondered if we’d like to have it (naturally, right?) Jenn, who loves her chickens, couldn’t refuse what is basically a really big, really shiney chicken; and that is how I came be on a roof at midnight.

Our plan (Jenn planned, I nodded) was to wait until dark, sneak up on the bird and throw a big blanket over the sleeping, calm, docile and completely unsuspecting peacock. We would then take the swaddled bird to an awaiting dog crate in the back of the truck and go home where it would get released into our rabbit area. And it would love it there. And it would be happy. That was Monday’s plan, Plan 1.0.

If anybody tells you that peacocks can’t fly, laugh. Laugh long and deeply. Slap your knee and gasp for air, because you know better. Those birds can fly just fine. My first attempt to catch the bird was with a blanket and before I could get close enough to him, he flew from the pool house roof to the main house roof. No mean feat there. But, when he was chased off the house roof in the hopes that he’d fly back to the pool house roof, he took to the air. From a storey and a half roof, the peacock flew at least one hundred feet to the top of a poplar tree, where it spent the night. Imagine being the neighbour; waking up, stretching and yawning as you pull aside the curtain on the bedroom window to take in the morning sunlight. “What the hell…” you’d say as you saw for the first time a peacock in a poplar tree. Likely, you’d rub your eyes, blink, and look again. Still there. Now you’re as confused as the guy who doesn’t know if he lost a horse or found a rope.

Equipped with the knowledge of flight and that, like most wild things, peacocks sleep light, we forumlated a new plan. It was much like the old plan, but with several improvements. Plan 2.0, if you like. We waited ’til dark. We waited ’til it was really dark. We wanted to make sure he was good and asleep. And, we included a net. Plan 2.0 was set.

I’m back on the roof, it’s Tuesday night and I’ve been spotted. I pull the rest of me onto the roof and start to move toward the bird. Slowly. Think “glacier”. I’m close enough that I could most likely net the bird, but it’s on the peak of the roof and I’m between the bird and the net which is the sort of net that one can’t wield like a tennis raquet. It’s heavy. I try to move the net to my other side and it catches on a shingle and makes a scratching sound. Immediately, the peacock is up and it starts to walk towards the far side of the pool house. Jenn elects to take the ladder, go to the far side of the pool house and try to encourage the bird to move back my way. When I think it isn’t looking, I gather my knees under me to prepare for the one chance I’ve got to jab out with the net and catch the bird.

It seems to take forever for Jenn to climb up on the roof but when she does, the peacock starts to move towards me again. I start to raise the net, he sees me, but I don’t care anymore. He’s now almost within range again. He looks at me, he looks at Jenn and he looks down to the ground below. He turns to the ground and prepares to fly down. It’s now that I make my move: in one motion I go from my knees to my chest, my arm outstretched over the peak of the roof and the net arcing towards the peacock. He jumps, wings flap and my net comes down on… nothing. I missed. We hear his wings flap, we follow the outline of his silhouette and watch him land, thankfully, luckily, on a gazeebo about thirty feet away.

We walk around the house and debate the chance of a second opportunity. We have to catch this bird. Tonight. We formulate Plan 2.0.1 and begin. I am going to try to net the bird from the ground as it sits on the gazeebo roof. Jenn is going to walk around the back of the gazeebo so the bird doesn’t take off into the bush. I get there first and see the head of the bird. I’m breaking rank a bit, fading to the left, but the gazeebo has a big overhang and the peacock isn’t sure if he sees me or not. I begin to slowly raise the net. Jenn has now appeared and she is holding the blanket out, moving it to distract the peacock. Just as the net clears the edge of the roof, the peacock spies it and runs to the other side of the gazeebo. Jenn is still waving the blanket and I duck under the overhang and run to intercept the peacock. I hear his feet on the roof, so I locate him that way. I arrive at the edge of the roof just as he is preparing to fly. With no time to think, I come from under the eaves with the net and thrust it up and over the gazeebo roof. I feel a slight resistance and, as I listen, I don’t hear the flapping of wings. He hasn’t flown. Almost afraid to look in case I spook him, I do anyway and it takes a few seconds to register: he’s in the net!

Jenn ran for the ladder and when she came back, we slowly lowered net and peacock off the gazeebo roof. Jenn swaddled him in the blanket, put a pillow case over his head and we carefully loaded him into the dog crate.

A few minor adjustments to our chicken feed shed and Mr. Peacock had a home. And that is how we came to have a peacock.

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9 Responses

  1. Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha! I have SO been there, done that! I don’t know how I missed reading this post last night, guess I was too busy replying to the other ones. Congrats on the capture, I know first hand it isn’t easy. I made the mistake of thinking peacocks would be like turkeys and jump pretty well but not really fly, so my fence wasn’t high enough the first time I let mine outside. Big mistake. He flew away right at dusk, not to be seen for about 4 days. How often do you see “Lost Peacock” notices posted on the hydro poles? I finally located him and the hunt was on. I could get just so close to him without spooking him, but not quite close enough. Capture finally involved me diving flat out onto my belly into the dirt and grabbing for his legs. He didn’t get back outside again until I had screened over the whole top of the outside pen.

    You’ve got yourself a gorgeous India Blue male, I’m guessing you probably don’t know his age but they live about 12-25 years I’m told. I’ve lost track of when I got mine, he was 3-4 at the time and is now probably around 8. I had another younger one too but a coon got him one night when I didn’t shut them inside. Nice thing about the males is not only are they beautiful to look at, they can also be a source of income. Each fall they’ll molt out their train and you can sell the feathers. I used to make feather earrings and sell them, even from some of the blue feathers but I also had a lady who would buy complete trains to use for crafting. They can be worth quite a bit, I used to get about $40-$50 and that was cheap compared to sites I’ve seen them advertised on.

  2. What a beauty he is, and what a great story. You guys are awesome!!
    Have you named him yet? I can’t wait to hear Hunter’s name for him.

    • Hi, Travelin’ Nan,

      He is a very striking bird, that’s for sure. Hunter named him – of course – so now he is known as “Rainbow”.

  3. What a beauty he is, and what a great story. You guys are awesome!!
    Have you named him yet? I can’t wait to hear Hunter’s name for him.

  4. Has he started screaming yet? They make some really weird noises, including honking, a kind of combined honk-scream (“honk-ahhhhhhhh!”), another one that sounds like a long drawn out “ah-ooooowwww” or “wo-ooooowwww” or even “me-ooooowww”. Mine used to occasionally startle people who were here for riding lessons when he’d call. He’d be in his pen hidden by the bushes and then start vocalizing.

    • Well… not screaming as such, but he does do the typical “ahhhh-ah, ahhhh-ah” sound as well as the weirdo honk that sounds rather prehistoric.

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