Roaming village peacocks score new roost and avoid death sentence

By Michael Drummond, PA South East Correspondent
·3 min read

A band of peacocks who have merrily roamed a village for two years have scored a new roost and are set to avoid “humane dispatch” by police.

The Boys, as they are affectionately known by some, are a fixture of life in Henfield and their vibrant plumages have been a joyful sight to many – particularly during the lockdown.

But while the colourful band of birds are popular with many inhabitants of the picturesque West Sussex village, they have ruffled a few feathers and their future had looked up in the air.

Residents received a letter from Sussex Police saying that efforts were being made to trap and rehome the five peacocks.

But the letter added if that could not be completed, then “humane dispatch” would be required.

Henfield peacocks
The peacocks have become quite tame (Finty George/PA)

Sue Bird, who lives in the village and helps run the Save the Henfield Peacocks Facebook group, told the PA news agency that a deal has been reached to give the peacocks a more static home in the village.

She said: “They are quite tame, the children in the village feed them from their hands.

“Some of kids found out that they like strawberries.

“During the lockdown they have been visiting people’s gardens.”

The Boys currently roam as they please but can be reliably tracked down at certain times of day when they visit specific homes for food.

Their visits to a care home during lockdown provided “a bit of something light” to residents who could not receive visitors, she added.

In one amusing scrape, the birds held up traffic near the local pub one day as they slowly crossed the road.

“We would be quite happy for them to roam but yes they have been a nuisance to some people and obviously those people have got a right to their opinion”.

The birds have been known to nibble on vegetables in people’s gardens, she said.

Henfield peacocks
The Boys have been popular with many residents, especially during lockdown (Finty George/PA)

Sergeant Tom Carter, wildlife crime lead for Sussex Police, said: “Peacocks are a non-native species and these particular birds have been causing damage to the native environment and nature for some time now.

“They have also been causing distress and inconvenience to some people living in the area, damaging gardens and making excessive noise at all hours of the day.

“It is important that, for their own safety and welfare, they are captured and removed to secure sanctuary.

“We are in touch with someone who is happy to assist with this and offer the birds a safe home in the future and we are looking to achieve this as soon as possible.”

Happily for The Boys, a resident has volunteered to host them on their land, where they can still be visited by their many fans.

And while they have gained recent, and indeed worldwide, fame, the peacocks are not Henfield’s sole animal visitor.

Despite various attempts to move it to the sea, a friendly seal has again and again paddled up the river near the village and is a welcome guest.