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How a peacock came to start a family on the streets of Brookhaven Hamlet

peacock

This peacock rules the roost.

Well, there are no actual roosts — just some deliberately left-open sheds — but Kevin the peacock does roam wherever he pleases in this tucked-away corner of Brookhaven Hamlet.

When he’s hungry he’ll step up to a door and squawk, to get some tidbits thrown his way.

If he’s chilly, he’ll warm his buns atop a covered hot tub.

The close-knit neighborhood that adopted him over six years ago — after he was found perched in a tree — adores him.

They care so much, two households chipped in and bought him a female companion in 2012.

“That’s his mail-order bride,” joked one resident, Patricia Whitlock, as the hen rested alongside a foundation nearby.

Today there’s a family of three peafowl that roam the streets here. The adult birds had three chicks earlier this year, with one surviving.

The neighbors agreed to talk about how they came to have peafowl roaming their properties under the condition that their exact location in Brookhaven Hamlet not be revealed. They’re concerned that curious motorists might accidentally do harm to their beloved birds.

“They might start coming through here looking for them,” said Bill Rabatin, who, with his wife, Michelle, split the bill with another neighbor two years ago to order the $178 hen from Missouri.

The neighbors felt badly that Kevin was lonely.

“The funny part of the story is that they guarantee you’ll get a yearling,” Bill Rabatin said. “We found out that females don’t mature until they’re 2. So for a year, poor Kevin danced around here with all his feathers shining and sticking his butt out and the female wanted nothing to do with it.

“It wasn’t until one of the neighbors had a barbecue in his backyard that they decided to do it right in the middle of everybody.”

The peacock was named by the children who found him in the tree. Kevin is the name of the peacock character in the Disney Pixar movie “Up.”

Though that family moved away soon after finding him, the name stuck and the bird “hung around,” explained Whitlock.

What the hen and growing chick are named depends on who you ask.

Michelle Rabatin calls the baby “chickpea.”

The neighbors say it’s too early for them to tell if the chick is a male or female, though they’re guessing male since its blue neck matches the blue of his father’s feathers. The mother’s neck is green.

Bill Rabatin said the wayward peacock came from a privately owned boatyard near Squassux Landing, whose owner used to keep peafowl and never attempted to recapture the bird.

“They’re fairly tame,” said Whitlock, noting the birds are native to the Indian subcontinent but manage through the winters here thanks to the food and shelter provided to them by the neighbors.

Suffolk SPCA officials said there are no local ordinances against people keeping the birds in Suffolk County, and saw no problem with the arrangement as described.

“She jumped on my dog Dixie’s head yesterday, as if to say, ‘Don’t get so close,'” Whitlock said with a laugh. “But nobody got upset. Dixie didn’t care.”

It was just another day in the neighborhood.

mike@greaterpatchogue.com

Top photo: The peacock scurrying away from a camera. (Michael White)

The peahen resting alongside a foundation.

The peahen resting alongside a foundation. (Michael White)

The neighbors aren't yet sure if the chick is male or female. (Michael White)

The neighbors aren’t yet sure if the chick is male or female. They’re leaning male. (Michael White)

 

About the author: Michael White

Michael White is a Bellport resident, longtime newspaper reporter and editor, and the owner of greaterpatchogue.com. Email him your story ideas or tips: mike@greaterpatchogue.com