British Columbia

Residents cry fowl as dozens of feral peacock fan discontent in Surrey

A growing population of peacocks is creating a rift in a Surrey, B.C., neighbourhood, where one resident took matters into his own hands by felling a tree where the birds roost.

Amid screaming, bird poop and tree felling, B.C. neighbourhood is all in a fluster over a muster of peacocks

They may be beautiful, but peacocks are leaving droppings everywhere and waking up people at all hours, according to some residents of a Surrey, B.C., neighbourhood. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

Dozens of feral peafowl roaming a Surrey, B.C., neighbourhood have created a rift in the suburban community, and those who want the birds gone are getting increasingly desperate.

For residents around 150 Street and 62 Avenue, the large and colourful fowl are either majestic marvels of nature or a nasty nuisance.

A city official estimated there are between 40 and 150 peacocks in the neighbourhood.

On Monday night, resident Parminder Brar was issued a $1,000 fine by the city for cutting down a large coniferous tree in his yard, a popular roosting spot for the birds where dozens would gather every night.

Brar said he liked the tree, but he was frustrated by the peacocks and stressed out by the city's inaction on the issue. He said he tried to get a permit to cut the tree down. When that was rejected, Brar took matters into his own hands.

A resident has been fined $1,000 for cutting down this tree without a permit. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

T.J. Shergill lives five houses down from where the tree was cut. He said the peacocks are messing up his property, pooping all over the place, making a terrible racket and destroying his garden.

"We can't enjoy our backyard. We have to put bird netting to protect our garden," said Shergill. "It's hard to deal with it."

He said the noise is unbearable and comes at all hours.

"Screaming is like … you don't need an alarm in your house. They'll wake you up early morning, like three o'clock," said Shergill. "It's crazy, man."

Peacocks roam the neighbourhood, perching on trees, fences and rooftops. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

Ryan Cragg, who lives down the block, said there were just a few peacocks wandering around when he first moved into the area about 10 years ago. By the end of the first summer there were 10, and the muster — the collective term for peacocks — has just continued to grow.

"Every morning, you're dodging poop," said Cragg. "Mostly I don't like the poop. It's when you're walking to school, it's a minefield every day. It's all over the place."

Cragg said he supports his neighbour who felled the tree, and suggested that he'd help pay the fine.

The peacock display is getting old hat for some residents tired of their messes and nighttime screeching. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

But right across the street from the felled tree, Cindy Kornik said she was pleasantly surprised to find the peacocks roaming the streets when she moved in six months ago.

"We just love it here. It's peaceful, the neighbours are great, everyone's friendly, including the peacocks," said Kornik, who called them "more than majestic."
A peacock pecks at an upstairs window along 150 Street in Surrey. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

Kornik said she was disheartened to see her neighbour had removed the large tree where the birds liked to roost.

"Their habitat is gone. I mean, that was their home. Now they're homeless," she said. "If you're complaining about the peacocks, maybe you need to move."

Further fines possible

City of Surrey bylaw enforcement manager Jas Rehal said the $1,000 fine for cutting the tree may be just the beginning.

A city arborist and a bylaw enforcement officer were at the house investigating on Tuesday. Rehal said the homeowner and the person who actually cut the tree could face legal action and further fines as high as $10,000.

"We take that un-permitted tree cutting very seriously in this city and we respond accordingly," said Rehal.

"Unfortunately, cutting down the tree is not going deal with the problem of the birds," he said. His impression is that more residents in the area support the peacocks, though not the ones most directly affected by the noise and droppings.

Rehal said the feral fowl fall in a bit of a grey area, in terms of who's responsible for them. He said he's planning a community meeting to get the neighbours together and discuss the issue with experts.


Follow Rafferty Baker on Twitter: @raffertybaker

About the Author

Rafferty Baker is CBC Vancouver's mobile journalist. Follow him @raffertybaker

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