Those pesky wild peafowl

As a former reporter and editor of the La Cañada Valley Sun for 39 years, I can relate to the ongoing episode of the pesky wild peafowl in La Cañada Flintridge.

They came in the early 1900s when Kansas Judge Edwin W. Sargent purchased a 90-acre piece of property above Vista del Valle in the Angeles Crest Highway area and found the birds there. Frank P. Doherty, a prominent L.A. attorney, then bought the acreage from Sargent in 1936.

The birds killed and ate the rattlesnakes, as much of a problem for LCF residents as the peacocks. At the time, the birds had the whole area to themselves, as the Doherty home was the only residence in the area.

When Doherty sold his property in 1965 and moved to another LCF location, he made an attempt to round up all of the peafowl but some would not be caught, leading to the noisy and aggravating problems of today.

The peafowl nuisance issue first arose publicly in early 1986 when residents in the northern Harter Lane-Pizzo Ranch Road area came to the City Council meeting to ask control of the nuisance.

The answer was a polite “no,” as council members felt the problem was not a serious one and the actions of the peacocks did not pose a danger to human life.

But those birds were an annoyance to the homeowners, creating loud, shrieking noises, destroying plants and flowers at their homes, leaving droppings all over and sometimes startling residents with their thumping sound when landing on the roof.

The City Council did agree to provide 15 free traps for the residents, and to have staff monitor the situation and coordinate the trapping program. The results were two peacocks and one raccoon caught.

Reaction to the peafowl included making the peafowl the official bird of LCF. Even council members got into the act. Chris Valente suggested moving some of the birds to Cherry Canyon in Flintridge. That didn’t sit well with then-Mayor Joan Feehan, whose home is at the entrance of the canyon. She shot back that another place would be in the Berkshire Bridge area, where Valente lived. Everything simmered down after a one-year ban on trapping went into effect.

Don Mazen


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