Re: Peafowl on Rottnest

Subject: Re: Peafowl on Rottnest
From: "Frank O'Connor" <>
Date: Tue, 20 May 1997 15:12:51 +0800
At 11:56 20/05/97 +1000, John Leonard wrote:
>Mention was made the other day of the feral Peafowl on Rottnest. I was there
>a couple of years ago and saw them around the settlement, but it just didn't
>occur to me that they might be feral and therefore 'tickable'; they just
>behaved like domestic birds. Surely a bird whose main food seems to be
>discarded chips around the cafes can't really be a wild bird? isn't there a
>more truly feral population on Flinder's Island, for those keen on ticking

How feral do you want them to be?

I quote from "The Birdlife of Rottnest Island" by Denis Saunders & Perry de
Rebeira, 1st Edition 1985.


This species is a native of India and Sri Lanka and the colony on Rottnest
Island is the only known feral population in Australia.  It is unclear when
the birds were released on the island but it was done via the Zoological
Gardens sometime between 1910 and 1915.  They have been free ranging since
then.  During the late 1950s the population was believed to be no more than
50 birds and this is probably true now (1985).

The areas in which the birds spend most of their time has changed over the
years.  Glen Storr found during the 1950s that the birds were mainly found
round Forbes Hill in the area to the south of the wind generators and north
of Lake Timperley.  In fact this area is known as Peacock Flats.  From here
the birds ranged to Oliver and Wadgemup Hills and Mt Herschell.  Since then
the birds have changed their distribution markedly, shifting to the east end
of the island.  Until the departure of the Australian Army from Kingston
Barracks in December 1984, the bulk of the Peafowl population lived there.
The Army staff fed the birds and provided them with protection.  From
Kingston Barracks the birds foraged in the woodland between the barracks and
Henrietta Rocks, frequently waiting for handouts from visitors near the
entrance to the barracks.  The birds also wandered around the settlement at
Thomson Bay in small numbers and one or two birds could be seen around the
old stables on the south side of Herschell Lake and around the Lighthouse
Keeper's cottage on Wadgemup Hill.  In fact during 1984 there was a male
that remained at each of these places although it did wander some distance
around.  One adult male demonstrated how far they will wander, as he was
banded in January 1984 and seen throughout that year.  In mid-January he and
another male were centred around the Lighthouse Keeper's cottage.  Two days
later it was seen at the turnoff to Stark Bay.  Three months later it was
foraging round the settlement at Thomson Bay and subsequently it remained
around Kingston Baracks.


In addition to handouts of bread from visitors or island staff, the Peafowl
feeds on seeds, insects and small lizards and snakes.  The birds cause
problems to the residents of Thomson Bay as they forage in their vegetable


I certainly remember them at Peacock Flats in the 1960s, and there were
still a few there in the early 1980s.  They are certainly still at the
Kingston Barracks even though the army has departed.  If you want them more
feral than those at the settlement, then look there.

On the same subject, the Peafowl and Guineafowl in Broome in the Kimberley
were interesting.  I don't know when they were introduced, but they were
free range on Buckley Plains near the horse stables at the turnoff for Crab
Creek Road to the observatory, and a few were in the pindan closer to the

Then the Pearl Coast Zoo was built, and both species thought that this was
an opportunity too good to pass up and they moved in where they could be
readily seen.  The Pearl Coast Zoo was eventually pulled down, and I don't
know what happened to the peafowl and guineafowl.  However, the observatory
still records occasional sightings in the pindan on the way to the
observatory.  The Helmeted Guineafowl has never been accepted on the
Australian list though.

Frank O'Connor                  Argyle Diamonds
8C Hardy Road                   PMB 11
Nedlands  WA  6009              West Perth  WA  6872
Phone   +61 8 9386 5694         +61 8 9167 1445
Fax                             +61 8 9167 1438

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>

The University of NSW School of Computer and Engineering takes no responsibility for the contents of this archive. It is purely a compilation of material sent by many people to the birding-aus mailing list. It has not been checked for accuracy nor its content verified in any way. If you wish to get material removed from the archive or have other queries about the archive e-mail Andrew Taylor at this address: andrewt@cse.unsw.EDU.AU