Central Park Zoo Peacock Flies the Coop

Updated, 6:10 p.m. | The long season of escaped zoo animals continues unabated in this city.

Only weeks after a peahen bolted from the Bronx Zoo and before the world had a chance to forget about the zoo’s missing cobra, a peacock left the Central Park Zoo on Tuesday to perch on a window ledge at 838 Fifth Avenue near 65th Street across the street.

The zoo confirmed that it was shy one peacock.

“A male peafowl or peacock has wandered from the Central Park Zoo,” Mary Dixon, spokeswoman for the zoo’s parent, the Wildlife Conservation Society, said in a statement. “The peacock poses no danger to anyone.”

As the peacock perched five stories above street level, a crowd of perhaps 100 people gathered below to gawk and take pictures.

The crowds, Ms. Dixon said, were, in effect, ensuring the continuation of the spectacle, and in a most unhelpful way.

“Peafowl routinely roost high in trees at dusk and stay there until dawn. They also seek high places when they feel threatened,” she wrote. “We are working to resolve this situation and ask the public and representatives of the media to refrain from doing anything that would encourage the bird to move before it is ready to do so. Home is a short flight across the avenue.”

As of 6:15 p.m., though, neither the police nor anyone else had attempted to disperse the crowd.
The bird’s new quarters were first noted by the blog Animal New York.

The peacock is two years old, has no name and lives in an open-air aviary from which he and his two fellow peafowl are free to come and go as they please, Ms. Dixon said.

While a human alter ego corresponded copiously from a fake Twitter account, the actual peacock stood almost statuelike, moving only his head to look down at the rush-hour traffic crawling along Fifth Avenue.

A vendor at the Cart in the Park food stand at 64th Street and Fifth Avenue, Colin Searles, said that the bird took up residence on a fourth floor ledge of the building around 11 a.m. and relocated to the fifth floor around 3 p.m.

Peacocks may look ungainly, but they can fly “extremely well,” Ms. Dixon wrote. George Burke, a retired decorator on Staten Island who keeps several of them at his residence, the Seguine Mansion, said that if they take a mind to travel, they can cover considerable ground.

“I’ve had a few of mine that left here and ended up eight miles away in another town in Staten Island,” Mr. Burke said. “They go from tree to tree and roof to roof. They get around.”

At 4:55, the bird lifted his wings slightly, looking like he might fly and eliciting “ohhs” from the crowd that quickly dissolved as he resumed a more relaxed position.

A French couple, Julia Gruszewski, 20 and Raphael Dimeglio, 19, stopped to watch.

“It’s amazing,” Mr. Dimeglio said. “Stuff like this never happens in Paris.”

Alex Orloff of Hell’s Kitchen, who had walked through the park onto Fifth Avenue into a crowd of novice bird-watchers, declared the bird’s perch “pretty amazing” and added, “I always heard they preferred the ground more.”

At 5:03 p.m. the peacock briefly turned its face to the window, as if to look inside the apartment he was squatting outside. The police said no one was home there.

The peacock is squatting on some pretty pricey real estate. One 4,500-square-foot apartment at 838 Fifth was on the market for $24 million in 2009. The limestone-clad twelve-story building at 838 Fifth was built in 1950 to house the Union of American Hebrew Congregations and converted to condos in 1999. “Love Thy Neighbor As Thyself” is inscribed on its facade.

Mr. Searles, the food vendor, said that he’d seen a fair amount of strangeness in the month he has been working the corner, including, just Monday, a drunk woman who began stripping next to the cart and cursing at people on the street.

“There’s always a certain amount of crazy out here, but this was highly unusual to be sure,” he said. He was not complaining. The peacock-watching crowds brought him a little extra business.

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