Wayward fowl cause a big flap in Arcadia Three weeks after fleeing, last of peahens is home

July 06, 1998|By Dail Willis | Dail Willis,SUN STAFF

Olivia Quinn Chalkley is only 3 years old, but she knew something was not right. "Mommy, look at that big bird!" she said yesterday morning as she and her mother were leaving the house to go swimming.

The "big bird" that caught the toddler's eye was sitting on a neighbor's roof -- and it was a peahen, the last straggler of a flock of five peafowl that escaped from their home three weeks ago.

"We see some pretty amazing wildlife in this neighborhood -- peregrine falcons, red-tailed hawks, egrets, herons, foxes. But a peacock is a little out of the range," said Tom Chalkley, Olivia's father, who lives with his family in the 4300 block of Harcourt Road, where the bird spent much of yesterday afternoon. "This is absolutely a first."

The fugitive bird was caught yesterday afternoon by its owner, Lee Brown, who came to the Arcadia area and managed to capture the hen.

"I just walked her into a corner of the yard -- when she tried to fly, I was able to grab her out of the air," Brown said.

Brown said that the flock -- one peacock and four peahens -- scattered three weeks ago when a stray dog came on his 3 1/2 -acre property in Northeast Baltimore and startled the birds.

Two birds returned within hours of the dog's visit, he said. The third came back two days later. The fourth was caught and returned a few days ago, Brown said -- and yesterday's capture made the flock whole again.

Before they returned home, the last two birds had spent some time in Arcadia, prompting a four-day flurry of phone calls to the Baltimore Zoo -- and plenty of neck-craning along the neighborhood's streets.

Chalkley and several others called the zoo, which has several peacocks that roam the zoo's grounds -- but the zoo wasn't missing any.

"We've gotten a lot of calls. They're not ours," said Jill Seipe, publicity manager for the zoo. She said there were about eight calls, starting on Thursday.

Brown said yesterday afternoon that it was a relief to have all his birds home again.

"Better to be at home than at large," he said. "The problem is, when they get in the public area, kids and dogs chase them."

Pub Date: 7/06/98

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