Peahen loose in Henrico being ‘hunted’ by feral cats

Peahen loose in Henrico being ‘hunted’ by feral cats
A peahen - the female version of a peacock - has eluded capture in a Henrico neighborhood. (Source: Richmond Wildlife Center)

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - A peafowl that was spotted in a Henrico neighborhood has eluded capture from both humans and feral cats.

A crew from Richmond Wildlife Center attempted to apprehend the bird, but was unable to do so.

The bird was spotted Thursday, June 20, and Melissa Stanley, executive director of Richmond Wildlife Center, said the peahen - the female version of a peacock - is being “hunted” by feral cats in the area.

“They’re harassing her to such an extent that when she sees them, she’s taking flight and seeks refuge in trees.,” Stanley said.

Peacocks are considered to be domestic animals like pets and livestock and either must have their wings surgically altered or their flight feathers regularly trimmed to prevent them from flying. Stanley said the roaming bird is likely in need of veterinary treatment due to the difficulty of a domesticated animal finding food on its own.

“We won’t be able to assess that until we can put our hands on her,” Stanley said.

A peahen - the female version of a peacock - has eluded capture in a Henrico neighborhood.
A peahen - the female version of a peacock - has eluded capture in a Henrico neighborhood. (Source: Richmond Wildlife Center)

The peahen has been visiting three homes regularly and has been seen eating bird seed that has fallen from bird feeders, dog food and cat food left outside for pets.

“Whoever owned her took good care of her,” Stanley said. “As long as she is eating, she’s going to maintain her strength and make our job more difficult."

Even though the bird is finding food, Stanley said there was a still a concern over her health because as a domesticated animal, the bird does not know how to forage for natural food sources and is eating things it normally wouldn’t. She was also concerned because there were not any water sources around the homes where the bird has been seen.

Stanley said one homeowner seems to have earned the bird’s trust and it will approach him. She gave him some instructions on how to catch the bird if he comes in contact with it again.

There are no traps that can be used to capture a peafowl without risking injury. Stanley said the best device would be a gun that shoots a net that will cover the bird and keep it from flying, but Richmond Wildlife Center does not own one because the device costs several thousand dollars.

Update on Peafowl: We were made aware of a stray Peafowl last week. On Friday, we spoke with two homeowners in which the peahen has been seen upon their properties. Our team went out to assess the situation and attempt a field rescue. We are on call to assist when the peahen is spotted again. At this time two feral cats have been actively seen hunting the peahen and attempting to attack her. She then takes refuge to the trees. We will keep you posted should we be able to assist her.

Posted by Richmond Wildlife Center on Monday, June 24, 2019

A team will be on call to attempt another rescue once the bird is spotted again.

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