There are wild peacocks in California, but how did these birds that are not native to the US become wild in the state of California?
It’s thought the first peacocks to become wild in California came from an unused dairy farm or escaped from some other private enclosure.
They certainly escaped from being kept as pets at some point, as peafowl are not native to California or the US.
Here’s a look at where wild peacocks can be found across California, why it’s a problem for some people, and what you can do about them.
Are There Wild Peacocks in Northern California?
I’ve seen accounts from people spotting peacocks across all the major cities in Northern California; this includes San Francisco, San Jose, Fresno, Stockton, just about every city.
This doesn’t mean you’ll see them wherever you look, but there is certainly no shortage of peafowl in North California if you know where to look.
It’s not known exactly where they first came from, but it’s safe to assume the first wild peafowl escaped from being kept as pets or as a public attraction.
People often think peafowl have specific needs or they can’t live in the wild in built-up areas, but this is not true.
Peacocks are able to thrive in residential areas if they’re left alone as they’ll find anything they can to eat and there are very few predators they need to be fearful of.
Are There Wild Peacocks in Southern California?
There are just as many wild peacocks in Southern California as there are in the Northern part of the state.
I’ve seen accounts from people spotting peacocks across all the major cities in Southern California; this includes Los Angeles, Long Beach, San Diego, Anaheim, just about every city.
There are some great forestry areas in California, like the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest and the Sierra National Forest which provide the perfect environment for peafowl.
Again, we can’t be 100% sure where the first wild peacocks came from. But they’ve been roaming wild for decades at this point, and they’re becoming increasingly more common in residential areas.
Are Peacocks Protected In California?
Peacocks are not directly protected under the fish and game laws in California that protect other birds, but it is a criminal offense to harm them.
If you take matters into your own hands you could find yourself in some legal troubles under animal cruelty laws.
The best advice is to speak with your local office or animal control office and ask them what you’re able to do or what they recommend.
There have actually been a number of operations over the years in various cities to capture and relocate peacocks in areas where they’re causing the worst problems.
But, overall it’s not been a success. In recent years, in part due to the pandemic, the number of wild peacocks in California has increased.
What Kind of Peacocks Are in California?
There are three main species of peafowl in the world, these are:
- Indian blue peafowl
- Green peafowl which is also called the Indonesian peafowl, and
- Congo peafowl which is also called the African peafowl
The Green peafowl is native to Southeast Asia and is listed as being endangered. The Congo peafowl is from the Congo in Africa and is listed as vulnerable by the IUCN.
It’s the Indian blue peafowl that is commonly found all over the world. This is the kind of peacock you’ll see roaming around wild in California.
It’s easy to identify the male Indian peafowl, they’re the ones whose tail feathers are that distinctive, iridescent shade of blue and green with the ‘eye’ shapes.
Are Wild Peacocks a Nuisance?
There is no doubt that peafowl are not supposed to live in residential areas amongst people.
Peafowl, and peacocks, in particular, are popular attractions in parks and other communal areas, but it’s a different story when you live near some.
There are a few issues with wild peacocks:
Noise - Peacocks can be noisy, particularly during mating season which typically runs from early spring to early autumn.
They let out a distinctive high-pitched honking sound. The kind of noise you expect to hear in a rainforest, not your local neighborhood!
Damage to property - Peacocks are large birds, which means they have large claws, strong beaks, and sharp spurs.
Much like chickens they’ll scratch around for food and will think nothing of digging up plants in your yard.
Peafowl are also known for damaging vehicles. It’s believed that they get spooked or feel aggressive towards their own reflections in a vehicle’s bodywork and will attack it.
So, while it’s not guaranteed that peafowl will be a nuisance, does it sound like seeing these beautiful birds is worth it?
The topic of wild peacocks in California is polarizing at best. Some people love seeing them in their neighborhood and will even go out of their way to feed them.
While others absolutely hate having them around. They find the damage they cause to be a menace, the noise unbearable, and want rid of them.
Whichever side you’re on, one thing I think we can all agree on is that peacocks are magnificent-looking birds - just better appreciated from a distance for most!
Image credits - Photo by Lenstravelier on Unsplash