February 14, 2019 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

When I hear about Nebraska’s wild turkeys, it always reminds me of bygone days when my boys were young—and we raised peacocks.

Our peacocks would roam throughout the yard’s five wooded acres. The birds stayed on the property and often flew to the treetops to roost. They meandered along the roof of the house and garage. They strolled in the yard and made themselves comfortable on the deck. I studied their eating habits to learn which flowers to plant, i.e., the kind they wouldn’t eat.

At one time, we also had a couple of guinea fowl. There was one peacock and one guinea fowl who would spend entire days chasing each other around and around and around the house.

During spring mating season, male peacocks fanned their ornamental trains of tail feathers for the ladies (the peahens). The males also called out for the females’ attention. I always thought it sounded like “RL-L-L-L, RL-L-L-L-L,” my oldest son’s name (R.L.).

After mating season, the peacocks shed their tails. I would gather the beautiful feathers from the yard for bouquets.

A couple of times, a  peahen would lay eggs under the glass-topped table on the deck off of the master bedroom. It must have been comfortable there.

Watching a peahen teach her chicks to fly was fascinating. She would fly from the floor of the deck to the railing, then stand there and wait for the babies to follow, eventually flying from the railing to the roof.

Peacocks are hardy birds, and they can survive the Nebraska weather. In the wild they can live to about 10-25 years, but have been reported to live up to 50 years in captivity.

While our peacocks were the most beautiful creatures, the guinea fowl were hideous. We had to get rid of them all many years ago. But that’s another story. Now, as far as I know, turkeys rule the roost in the neighborhood.

Read more about the recovery of the native Nebraskan bird in this article, “The Phoenix-Like Resurrection of Turkeys in Nebraska.” 

Until next time.

Cheers!


This article was printed in the March/April 2019 edition of 60Plus in Omaha Magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Contributing editor 60Plus Gwen Lemke