The Persistent Peacock – Backyard Poultry

Reading Time: 5 minutes

By John G. Moore It was hot. Texas hot. 

It was the end of July, just two weeks after my father passed away. My wife and I unloaded the car with sweat rolling off of us. 

We hadn’t been home for the entire two weeks, so my first goal was to carry an armload of luggage down the hall to the bedroom and turn the AC on 65 degrees F as I passed the thermostat. 

But I stopped in the living room when something caught my eye out of the front bay window.  

A peacock. 

“Honey,” I called to my wife, who was struggling to unload the car and wondering why I’d stopped helping her. 

“What?” she said. 

“There’s a peacock in our front yard.”  

“No, there’s not.” 

“Yes, there is,” I said. “Come look.” 

She joined me in front of the window, and we both stared at a male peafowl pecking at things in the front yard. 

Since no one we knew in our rural neighborhood had peafowl, it was as if this one had fallen from the sky. Since he was a peacock, that could have been close to what happened. We didn’t know. 

I turned down the AC, and we finished unloading the car. 

But that’s close to what I did. I called neighbors I had phone numbers for and dropped by nearby homes to ask if they were missing a peacock. 

No luck. 

The veterinarian nearby didn’t have an escaped fowl, nor did he want one. 

I posted the bird’s picture on my social media page, looking for owners. 

I called the local zoo to see if they wanted him. 

I figured we’d get up the next day, and he would have gone back home. 

After the previous 14 days, the last thing I felt like doing in the heat was going door-to-door, looking for the owner of a peacock. 

I was wrong. 

The Persistent Peacock Backyard Poultry

I put out another call on social media, offering the bird to someone who could catch him, had a proper place to keep him, and knew how to care for him. 

A middle-aged couple came to our house and spent about three hours trying to get him into a cage. No dice. 

After three days, I decided that he wasn’t going to leave. 

We’d had ducks before and knew what to feed them, but a peacock was new territory. I had to do some homework. I called the vet back and asked if he knew what to feed him that was readily available. 

“High-protein cat food and berries,” was the answer. 

Since we already had a cat, the first part was easy. A trip to the store took care of the rest. 

I put out fresh water, cat food, and strawberries. He ate the first and just picked at the strawberries. So, we tried grapes — he ate them all. 

The next question I had was: does he need a pen, a cage, or some other form of protection? A look online showed that most people who raise peacocks keep them in pens. 

But, according to my research, feral peacocks generally fend for themselves fairly well. I learned this to be the case when I finally figured out where he was sleeping at night one evening at sunset. I saw him fly way up into a tree in our front yard. 

So, what to call our newest member of the homestead? 

The first name that came to mind belonged to a guy I knew growing up who liked to strut in front of the ladies. 

So, I named our new family member “Fred.” 

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One of our neighbors, who years before had raised peacocks, didn’t give me much hope for Fred. He said that without the protection of a pen, Fred would fall prey to coyotes, bobcats, a fox, or other predators. 

I considered building a pen, but this bird was independent. He began roaming the neighborhood as he pleased and came home to roost in the same tree on the same limb every night. 

I convinced myself that building some sort of enclosure for him would cost me time and money, and the likelihood he’d ever go in it was almost none. 

After six months, Fred would come closer to us as he became used to the routine of his food and water being placed in the same spot each morning and evening. 

I’m an early riser, and each morning like clockwork, Fred would fly down from his roost at sunrise. I’d take his food outside and shake his food bowl, call to him, place it on the porch, and walk back inside. My wife and I shared the same routine in the evening. 

Fred became so used to how things worked. He began coming to the door and looking inside as if to say, “Hey, you’re late with dinner.” 

We worried somewhat about how our cat and Fred would get along, but it worked out. The cat chased Fred a couple of times, but Fred’s size finally convinced the cat to chase a smaller bird. 

Were we doing everything we could to take care of him? Fortunately, we were able to find a lady not far from us who also has peacocks she keeps in a pen. She familiarized us with the medications they need and how and when to give them. 

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Fred’s had a couple of run-ins with either a fox or a cat. But we got the right medication to treat his needs, and he’s recovered both times. 

He showed up at our door the very day we came home from losing my father. It was a time when I needed a distraction, a project, a purpose.  

He was just what I needed at that moment. He’s now my best buddy. 

Fred’s been with us for three years and now comes right up to us when we put his food out. During the day, he sleeps on a gardening table outside the patio window and sits there during inclement weather. 

He’s no longer afraid of us. He trusts us. He’s a member of the family. He even has his own Facebook page. 

If a volunteer peacock or peacocks show up on your homestead, even if you have to learn how to care for these beautiful birds — take them in. Learn. We did. It’s been worth it. 

To visit Fred The Peacock’s Facebook page, go to

John G. Moore is a native of Arkansas, but he has called East Texas home for over 30 years. He is the owner of One Moore Production, a recording studio where he voices books for Audible. His weekly column, Moore Thoughts, appears in newspapers in Arkansas, Texas, and Louisiana. John is the author of two books – Write of Passage: A Southerner’s View of Then and Now – Volumes 1 and 2. 

You can reach him at [email protected]

Originally published in the October/November 2021 issue of Backyard Poultry and regularly vetted for accuracy.

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