Peacocks, the Royal Birds of Maui
Give of your Aloha to the Peacocks
Along Kihei Road on Maui -- near Yee's Mango Orchards and Fruit Stand -- there might soon be a sign that says Peacock Crossing. It would be a good idea.
On any given morning, I can walk along this area of roadway and watch the cars stop as five or six peacocks cross the road to search for breakfast on the makai (ocean) side. The locals are used to this blue iridescent parade in the morning, but there are a lot of tourists who come speeding along and suddenly have to slam on their brakes. Surely that's one reason for the bumper stickers here: Slow Down. This Ain't the Mainland.
Kihei is not the only vicinity on these islands that have peafowl. There are many little flocks of the beautiful creatures especially on Oahu and the Big Island. Most people like them. A few people hate them. It takes all kinds of people to make the world go around, I guess. There was a woman on Oahu who was charged last year with beating a peacock to death.
The owners of Yee's Mango Orchard have had peafowl on their property for years and years. They also have geese which fly in from the Pacific at a certain time of year and fly out again when they are ready. The geese resemble a gaggle of old ladies (like myself) who stand on the side of the road wondering if it is safe to cross and finally decide it will never be safe to cross, so they sit down and talk to one another about it. Those geese are very cautious compared to the peafowl. I have never seen Mr. Yee's geese anywhere, except on the side of the road and only in the early morning. Until three weeks ago, I had always seen the peafowl in the early morning - no other time of day -- on the Yee property or crossing the roadway to and from the property.
HIT AND RUN
But I should know by now that 'always' never stays that way and 'never' is usually shorter than its name promises. A few weeks ago in the afternoon, I was driving down South Kihei Road at 4:30 p.m. on my way to the post office. As I passed Yee's Fruitstand on my left, I suddenly saw a regal, blue-headed intelligent creature crouched in the middle of the roadway looking up at me through piercing, patient eyes that said, "Please help me. I'm injured." This magnificent peacock had feathers -- which I've since learned are more correctly called upper tail coverts -- that were almost five feet long. Half of these had torn from his body and were strewn all over the right side of the roadway. I saw oncoming traffic slow down, but keep going. Somebody in a vehicle had hit this bird and kept going.
Leilani holding the very injured peacock.
I traveled one more block so I could park in a parking lot rather than on the side of the narrow roadway. I parked the car and ran back to the bird. By the time I got to the bird's location, a man in a pick-up truck had stopped and, by coincidence, one of the women in Mr. Yee's family had arrived at the property just then. The man carried the injured bird to the side of the road. We had a look at the bird's back. It was torn wide open.
The man didn't have any room in the cab of his truck to transport the bird, so I had the privilege of helping the lady and the bird get to the veterinarian's office down the street. I helped tuck all the tail feathers in safely before closing my car's back door. The lady -- whose name I can't remember right now, so I'll call her Leilani -- sat in the backseat with the bird on her lap wrapped in a towel. We had wrapped a towel around the bird's body to hold his insides 'in' and get him to the vet so that either he could be saved or he could be given pain medicine and then be put down.
Regal is the word that comes to my mind when I try to describe this bird, but really it's not half good enough. There was a reverence or a magnificence about his spirit which defies description. There was a definite essence there that really was a privilege to encounter.
After Leilani and I had left this beautiful bird in the hands of the veterinarian, I drove Leilani back to the Yee property. She said she and her family had talked previously of getting a sign made that says PEACOCK CROSSING, but they had decided not to -- until now -- because there used to be signs posted for the turtles, baby turtles, that had to cross the highway at Maaelaea -- and people stole the signs to keep as souvenirs.
I did a little research to find out more about peacocks. The first thing I learned is that only the males are called peacocks. The females are called peahens. The two genders together are called peafowl. I thought I wanted to know about peacockery, but it turns out there is no such word in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. There is, however, in the unabridged version.
There are two main types of peafowl and both are in the genus, Pavo, of the pheasant family, Phasianidae. There is the Indian Peafowl and the Green Peafowl. The Indian Peafowl is a resident breeder of the Indian subcontinent and is the national bird of India. The Green Peafowl breeds from Java to Burma. It is in danger of becoming extinct due to quality of habitat and hunting. (See Wikipedia, peafowls)
The peafowl of Kihei Road are Indian Peafowl with their blue or blue-green iridescence. The female plumage is dull green, grey and brown. Although the male displays and fans his train of coverts very impressively to attract a female, the female can also display her plumage. She does this when she needs to ward off female competition or when she needs to protect her young.
Peafowls eat insects and other anthropods, such as centipedes, and flower petals, plant parts, amphibians and reptiles. In other words, they live the abundant life here. Centipedes, for instance, can be 11 or 12 inches long and almost an inch wide here. Peafowl cry loudly like a cat in trouble. We hear them here at night in Kihei from almost a mile away.
Only in Hawaii: A Lady Wrote an Obituary for the Peacock
A few days after this traffic accident between a vehicle and the peacock, a lady wrote a letter to the editor of The Maui News. She titled it An Obituary for a Peacock . She lamented that the driver of the hit and run vehicle had not stopped even though he or she was probably aware and possibly embarrassed. The writer of the letter said all who had seen the accident would have offered support to the driver if he or she had not sped up and left the scene. The lady said, "We would have sympathized. I hope he or she comes to terms with this sad event. So, attention, Kihei drivers. Careful, please. Kihei's peacocks deserve aloha, too."
In stark contrast to the lady's concern for the peacocks is the message from a fellow islander the other day in The Maui News. He states in his letter to the editor that he has lived on a plantation with 100 peacocks. He then calls them unpleasant names. He believes the species should be allowed to go extinct and he suggests we step on the gas pedal if we see one crossing the road.
You can see why a Peacock Crossing sign should be posted as soon as possible. It won't rid Maui of people who intensely dislike peacocks but those types might get stuck behind a driver who is proceeding cautiously due to the fact it's the peacock crossing area.
Peacocks do deserve aloha, too. Long live the peafowl of the Hawaiian Islands. Peacockery forever!
Copyright (c) P. Williams. All rights reserved.
© 2010 Pamela Kinnaird W