The owner of an Apalachicola Bay motel received a citation earlier this month for peacocks that have been its hallmark for 20 years — but it wasn't an accolade.
One neighbor of the Sportsman's Lodge here is less than impressed about the preening, prancing and prideful peacocks and complained enough about the birds that Franklin County Animal Control issued innkeeper Edda Allen a $50 citation April 4.
Allen's husband, Bob Allen, gave his wife two peacocks as a special birthday gift two decades ago, and Mother Nature allowed them to be fruitful and multiply. About 40 roam the several-hundred-acre area around the property, Bob Allen said.
The citation stated the birds were "causing a ruckus around people's house(s)." The Allens have lived on Apalachicola Bay in the northern Gulf of Mexico for 43 years, and Bob Allen said this was the first time someone formally complained about the birds.
"They're wild birds. They're not supposed to be penned up," he said. "They're born free. They're in an 877-acre estuary."
Like some other wild birds, they're also noisy and not particularly cuddly but can become more tame when exposed to people. When males are vying for a peahen's attention during early spring mating season, they may fight, using the spurs on their legs to inflict pain.
Peacocks, members of the pheasant family, are native to the Indian subcontinent. The strikingly colored males can grow to 7½ feet long, including feathers, and weigh up to 13 pounds; the duller-colored peahens come in at less than 3 feet long and weigh less than 10 pounds.
The Allens' party — that's one word for a flock of peacocks — has had many births through the years, and Bob Allen estimates that he's given away more than 200 peachicks. He said he keeps one baby for the mother peacock and adopts out the rest.
Sometimes visitors to the lodge, about 60 miles southwest of Tallahassee, can see peachicks climbing the trees in the area, Bob Allen said. And they'll often see colorful feathers on the motel lawn that the mature peacocks have shed because they forage on the ground for seeds, berries, insects, worms and even little lizards.
"They're a free bird. I mean, that's all I can say," he said. "If I was taming a bunch of bears, that would be one thing."
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