Elusive Bowne HS bird could be enjoying Flushing dating game

A police officer approaches the escaped Queens peacock with a cage moments before the bird took flight, escaping to a nearby roof. Photo by Ellis Kaplan
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The wayward peacock who has been comically eluding authorities after escaping from John Bowne High School several weeks ago may just be looking for love.

NYPD officers, faculty from the Flushing high school, at 63-25 Main St. in Flushing, and New York City Animal Care & Control continued to try and spring makeshift traps to nab the slippery fowl last week, but just when its capture seemed certain, the bird would flap away to safety.

A Queens ornithologist said lady troubles could be behind its jaunt around Kew Gardens Hills, where the winged creature would pop up like a spectre, appearing in spots in the residential neighborhood but ultimately evade capture.

At this time of year, peacocks are wired to hang out in what is known as their harem, tending to multiple peahens and their offspring, according to David Lahti, assistant professor of biology at Queens College.

But this bird is a confirmed bachelor, and being single in late summer is unusual, according to Lahti, since it is not mating season.

“Who knows what it’s doing?” he said. “It could be wandering around looking for its harem, even though it doesn’t exist.”

The errant bird shares a 4-acre farm with only one other male peacock, according to Steven Perry, assistant principal of the agriculture program at the high school, which may be why he undertook his quixotic quest.

“That is what we think he went looking for, probably,” Perry said.

But any romantic intentions would be purely instinctive, since peacocks are not exactly the brightest feathers in the plume.

In fact, next to chickens, peacocks and the rest of the pheasant family are some of the least intelligent birds on the planet.

So how does this bird continue to dodge its human pursuers?

“They have at least 3,000 years’ experience of humans trying to catch them,” Lahti said.

The peacock is native to South Asian countries like Sri Lanka and India, but their eye-catching colors made them highly prized to visitors who wanted to take them back other countries like Egypt and then Europe, he said.

“Response to a net and flying higher to escape are things that peafowl are known to do,” Lahti said.

This peacock does both well.

Last week, a teacher at the school was searching for the winged creature and spotted it on the roof of a home near the corner of 70th Avenue and 147th Street.

He was clutching a large pole with a net and waiting for the peacock to come down off a roof, where it was munching on a strawberry and staring at itself in the reflection of a window, but the peafowl ultimately lost interest and flew to another rooftop.

As of press time Tuesday, the sightings have dried up.

And while the peacock may be lovesick, it may also have been scared off a favorite perch on a building overlooking the farm, according to Perry. Whatever the reason, he hopes the itinerant fowl will eventually abandon his odyssey and return home.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4566.

Updated 12:38 am, August 30, 2012
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