Live in California and being bothered by wild or feral peacocks? Wondering, are peacocks protected in California? The answer is, yes, peacocks are protected. In fact, you can be charged with a felony for intentionally harming a peafowl in the state of California.
Are There Wild Peacocks in California?
There is a huge number of wild or feral peacocks and peahens in California. If you live in Cali, I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you this.
It’s not known how many there are, but the number is estimated to be in the thousands. If you’ve not been to Cali, don’t worry, the streets aren’t lined with peacocks. They tend to frequent certain areas.
The birds are somewhat of a feature and tourist attraction across the South Bay area peninsula, in particular.
It’s estimated that they’ve been roaming this area for more than 100 years. They’re certainly welcomed by most residents and businesses, although they do cause some problems which I’ll get into below.
For tourists, seeing a peacock fanning out its magnificent tail feathers is quite the sight. As it is seeing these blue and green feathered birds roaming around.
Related - Are peacocks protected in Florida?
The Problem With Wild Peacocks
While they are a welcome sight for tourists, and I’m sure locals the first few times they see them - peacocks can be a nuisance.
Being birds, they tend to go wherever they want, when they want. They have very sharp claws, and for some reason seem to enjoy walking over vehicles.
This leaves some pretty nasty scratches, which no vehicle owner wants to see.
In addition to this, they can do some serious damage to a yard digging up plants while foraging for food and pooping everywhere.
Plus, some people just don’t like birds or wild animals. So, there is a group of residents that would be very happy to see the back of the peacocks roaming California, but it doesn’t seem like that's going to happen any time soon.
Can You Have Peacocks in California?
You can keep peacocks and raise them as backyard pets in California if you want to do so.
It’s always a good idea to speak with your local office before keeping an exotic pet, as you never know what the laws may be.
Peacocks can be noisy, especially during the night and more so during their breeding season. So, you should take into account your neighbors, even if you are permitted to keep peafowl on your land.
The only real state-wide regulation I could find is that they have to be caged, as obviously you don't want them joining the feral populations.
I know of a few people who keep peacocks in large pens or averys on their property without any problems. I’m sure you can find a community of peafowl enthusiasts if you do some digging.
Related - Here's how to tell the age of a peacock.
Is It Legal to Kill a Peacock in California?
According to the goldengateaudubon.org, it’s unlawful to kill any bird or needlessly destroy their nest or eggs in the state of California.
This includes peafowl, which being one of the largest feral birds will obviously cause a larger and more obvious problem.
In fact, there was an incident reported by NBCLosAngeles where someone had been killing peafowl kept in a Southern California coastal equestrian community.
The police stated that “Using a weapon to intentionally kill a peacock is a felony in California.” Carrying punishments of fines and up to three years in prison for each peafowl killed.
Therefore, if you’re a resident or business owner being pestered by peafowl, I strongly suggest you call your local office for advice before taking matters into your own hands.
Can You Hunt Peacocks in California?
The Interesting thing about peafowl is that they're not classified as game birds or wildlife under California law.
Peafowl are classified as domestic livestock, therefore it is not lawful to hunt them for your own recreational purposes or part of a scheduled hunt during hunting season.
Do People Eat Peacocks?
In certain parts of the world, it is actually illegal to eat peacocks. Most notably in India, where the Blue Indian peafowl is their national bird.
Although technically it's illegal to kill a peafowl yourself, it's not illegal to eat Peacock and you may find it on the menu if you look really hard.
The reason you don't see it on the menu very often is simply due to demand and cost. Peacock does have a gamey taste, which isn't to everyone’s liking.
Compared to chicken, there isn't as much meat on a bird, and it takes longer to raise them to butchering age. So, it's a lot more expensive to raise them for meat which means you’re not going to see peacocks on the menu in many restaurants.
However, it’s more common for people to eat peahen’s eggs. Peahen eggs are huge, they’re about three times the size of a chicken’s egg - but taste the same.
If you have your own peahens or have an egg supplier, count yourself lucky. It’s very expensive to buy peahen eggs from exotic markets - typically in the $20-40 range!
Related - Learn about the correct terms for groups of peafowl here.
There you go, it's a slightly grey area and you do need to check with your local office what to do if you’re being bothered by peacocks as laws and regulations can vary from one county to another.
But basically, peacocks are protected in California and if you kill one you could face felony charges and some serious punishments.
They’re not classified as game birds or wild animals, so you have to respect that. You can’t hunt or shoot peacocks, please call your local office for advice.
Image credits - Photo by Travis Colbert on Unsplash