Does Longboat really have to deport baby peacocks?

Editor & Publisher

Although Longboat is a community deep into its golden years, the north end of the island is a hotbed of unbridled reproductive activity. I am talking about the peacocks.

Last week, an 11-year-old from the Village implored Vice Mayor Ed Zunz to not remove the five baby birds that were just born. The boy recognized the fact that a hundred birds on the Key is too many, but he wants the historical inhabitants to remain. Zunz and fellow Villager and former Commissioner Gene Jaleski are having none if it.

The Town four years ago paid for the removal of every female peacock from the island. The Commission approved the use of tranquilizer guns to  subdue the stubborn birds and decided to have a goal of leaving 12 males. The idea was that the males would eventually die off.

But it seems one lucky female has stayed behind to enjoy her ever-willing dating pool of males. And now she and her brood are soon to be plucked and relocated.


Loud shrieks will set you free…

Some residents agree with the internment and deportation of the females. They cite late night shrieking and mating calls reminding them of sounds they have not heard since their wild days in college.

Others speak of a sea of peacock feces coating everything from pool decks to Porsche 911s and even lesser vehicles.

Others say they have witnessed the beaks pecking at pool cages.

And then there are the rest of the residents and visitors who put up with some of the nuisance in trade for the bird’s audacious splendor. To those who still find joy in the cacophony of life, they find the birds stunningly beautiful.

We should all be careful — especially later in life — from turning cranky and intolerant to any disruption.

Longboat Key, and especially the north-end Village, was and is an epitome of natural beauty. It always attracted those who like to take their shoes off and walk to the beach and those who prefer the smell and scents of the sea rather than the anaesthetized and sanitized world of suburbia and over-chlorinated pools.

The peacocks are not vermin. They are not rats. They are a bird that was introduced decades ago and found refuge on our Key.


Go ahead, make my day…

I hope the Commission can relook at its policy. At the time it was adopted Commissioner Phil Younger joked that “a 45 is a good tranquilizer.”

Commissioner Duncan joked that his wife gives him a tranquilizer each night before bed.

Well as cute as these remarks may be, that is not the leadership that should rule on such issues. They are not stewards of our natural environment. They are obviously folks exhibiting some compensating machismo toward a colorful aspect of Longboat life.

How one transitory commission, after hearing the bizarre emotionalism of three or four residents, could agree to use Longboat Key tax dollars to remove the free roaming birds that have been on the key for decades is wrong.

Especially the way the policy was backed into without proper discussion and without any true authority. All the experts — the police, the wildlife managers for Manatee County and the town staff — will tell you their have been no substantiated dangers, no biological threat posed by the feces and in fact, little more than a cacophony of whining. In fact, the Manatee County animal services staff evaluator said the peacocks posed no health risk and the feces in the Village was at a very low to insignificant level.


Sanitation engineers

So instead of facts, our commission based its decision on, “We are tired of hearing of this problem, so let’s hope this will now make it go away and never come back.”

But that is not policy-making. What we really are witnessing is the continuing anesthetizing and sanitizing of what is and was the most neighborly and delightful part of the key.

The Village always was home to the delightful mavericks. The Villagers bicycle and stroll; they kayak; they have raucous events and parties. Residents and tourists alike love this older, historical part of the key. And yes, the legendary peacocks are all part of that mix.

I do not understand why people move to an area with peacocks with all their incredible splendor and then proceed to try and change the Village into Stoneybrook or some other soulless planned community.

It is a series of what appears to be tiny decisions that erode the soul of a town.

It is like trading a Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel for the intellectual landscape of Kierkegaard.

If you want to live a life with no outside intrusion, no chance of errant wildlife and no chance of an encounter with nature, the options are abundant. That is what condominium complexes and Sarasota Bay Club offer.

Does this town not see the irony of our all-male Commission urging us to remove all the Village peacocks except the males? And just like the peacocks they are another noisy component of the landscape.

The Village on Longboat Key is like the Village in New York City. Do not try and create Islandside North. And in Greenwich Village the male and female peacocks, the Wall Streeters, the Upper East Siders and the sprawling residents of Chinatown all can cross paths and are part of what makes the place great.

Do our foreign visitors, the homeowners whom are not here, and the residents who stand idly by realize the Town is working diligently to remove every baby bird that hatches its way into our lives?

I can guarantee one thing: if any resident complaining about peacocks sat through the Ringling Cultural Community Center plan discussions this past spring, things would be different. After that exercise, the peacocks seem competent, polite and barely audible.

  Stephen Reid

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Longboat Key News

3 Responses for “Does Longboat really have to deport baby peacocks?”

  1. J L says:

    I am a full-time resident of the village, pro-peacock and completely disagree with this act to remove them. The custom has been for decades for these peacocks to exist and roam the village. The existence of the peacocks was a feature of the neighborhood that many purchasers relied upon and valued when they purchased their property (I am one of those purchasers). No one purchasing was unaware of the peacocks when they purchased their property. If their presence was unacceptable, they should not have purchased. The custom goes to the peacocks. I completely agree with Mr. Reid – this issue needs to be revisited and the peacock population continued, meaning re-introducing females and continuing the population. Legally, custom also tells us peacocks have been a feature of the village and therefore deserve to continue. Preserving the character of the village is important for many reasons and the peacocks are part of that character.

  2. Hope Nilsen says:

    I for one am pro-peacocks! Yes we live in a republic that protects ones liberties and interests, but what if ones passion is to look at the peacocks? What if theoretically one day peacocks go near extinct due to *cough cough* climate change? The people of Longboat by that time will be long gone due to old age and the younger and more robust won’t have the beautiful birds to marvel at. What the minds of selfish commissioners think should not affect wildlife. The future is quite literally the future, and not to be rude, but most of these commissioners won’t be a part of the future, so why should their decisions about silly birds matter? PRO-PEACOCK POWER

  3. Gene Jalesmi says:

    Steve. Fortunately we live in a republic where the rights and liberties of the individual are protected. No oone, not even a vocal group, has the right to impose suffering on any individual. If even one resident’s quality of life is adversely affected by too many peacocks, we must protect their interests.

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