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What was a peafowl doing in Bay Point?

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DEAR JOAN: I live in a very large apartment complex. Recently, just as the heavy rain began and I was walking to my car to leave for an appointment, I was astounded to see a large and very beautiful peacock strutting across the parking lot.
Another tenant also saw it and we were wondering where on earth it would have come from. We’re a fenced complex, but it might have come in through the open gate.
After I drove away, I had concern about its welfare and would like to know if that would be a situation where you call animal services. Do they capture a bird like that?
Jen Kary, Bay Point
DEAR JEN: The only time you would need to call animal control for a peafowl would be if it is injured. Otherwise, it is on its own.
Peafowls have been roaming Bay Area communities for several years now. They most likely are peafowls — or their descendants — that were kept as pets and escaped their enclosures, or were turned out by owners who couldn’t take the noise any longer.
Peafowls are beautiful birds. Just look at the elegant plumage of the peacock. But they can make a mess, dig up garden beds and frighten you half to death with their cries, which have been charitably described as sounding like someone screaming bloody murder.
That’s not to say the birds aren’t helpful. Peafowls are great at managing snakes, including rattlesnakes. They also are lovely to look at.
Many people enjoy seeing them — a surprising spot of vibrant colors in a noble package — while others put them on the same level as wild turkeys, an annoyance and irritant.
If you saw the peafowl right as the rain started, it likely was headed toward shelter. Peafowls don’t like getting wet. As to how it got into the complex, it didn’t need an open gate. Peafowls can fly quite well, just not great distances.
Here’s a fun fact to make you further appreciate your visitor. During mating season, the peacock spreads his magnificent tail and shakes it, emitting a low frequency sound that humans can’t hear. The peahen, however, feels the vibrations with the crest on her head, and uses it to track the waiting male.
Males also scream out something called a copulatory call, which can attract females who believe the male is sexually active. Many times the peacock is just faking the call to attract the peahens, but it works.


A fox crosses a fence top in Fremont. Courtesy of Doug Cooper
DEAR JOAN: I looked out the window of my home and saw this critter casually strolling along on top of my fence. Can you tell me what it is and how it was able to get up on a 6-foot tall fence?
Doug, Fremont
DEAR DOUG: I believe your backyard fence walker was a fox. They are excellent jumpers and very nimble climbers.
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It can be difficult to tell the difference between a fox and a coyote, but foxes are about half the size of coyotes, and they have very long tails. The coyote’s tail can be quite thick, but it’s less than half the length of its body.
I can’t really make out the coloring in the photo you sent, but I’ll wager it was a gray fox. The gray is the only fox capable of climbing trees.
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