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Longboat Key Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013 4 years ago

Lore: Bye, bye birdie: Peacock kidnapped

by: Robin Hartill Managing Editor

Longboat Key is known as a safe place to live — for humans, that is.

The Longbeach Village’s infamous flock of peacocks has committed its share of misdemeanors throughout the years. They’ve scratched cars, jaywalked and, no doubt, violated the town’s noise ordinance.

But they’ve also faced their share of high crimes.

Around 4:30 p.m. Feb. 5, 1988, Longboat Key police learned that a Village peacock had been kidnapped.
A witness told police that a man stopped his small truck near Linley and Poinsettia streets, captured a peacock, tied its legs and put the bird in the back of his truck before leaving.

Police learned an Ellenton man owned the vehicle the kidnapper drove, but they never located the man or the peacock.

It wasn’t the first time the Village’s most colorful residents faced the wrath of their neighbors, and, of course, it wouldn’t be the last.

In March 1978, a man told the Longboat Key Town Commission that he had shot at peacocks with an air-rifle and thrown rocks at them in an (unsuccessful) attempt to discourage them from roosting on his roof.

The discussion came in the middle of mating season, during which a mysterious pair of wild turkeys had also joined the flock.

According to Frank Cunningham’s “The Key to Longboat,” a resident pleaded no contest to criminal charges that he killed a peacock with a pellet gun, then ran over the dead bird with his car. He received three years of probation.

Mostly, however, the peacocks have been at the center of a war of words between those who love them and those who hate them.

Suffice it to say, we haven’t heard the last from peacocks.

Debate usually hatches in the spring — i.e., mating season — in the Village about how to handle the peacock proliferation.

In past years, the Longbeach Village Association hired trappers in an effort to reduce the flock to 12.

And although the Association has yet to determine whether it will try to cull the flock again, rest assured: The reduction takes place through non-violent measures.

After trappers capture the peacocks, they take them to a new home — usually a farm.

There, the squawking and car scratching aren’t so important — and farmers value them because they eat insects.

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