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The mystery of the peacocks

Chico Enterprise-Record logo Chico Enterprise-Record 6/19/2020 Carin Dorghalli
a colorful bird perched on a branch: A peacock stands atop a shed Thursday in the backyard of a home on Centennial Avenue in Chico. (Carin Dorghalli -- Enterprise-Record) © Provided by Chico Enterprise-Record A peacock stands atop a shed Thursday in the backyard of a home on Centennial Avenue in Chico. (Carin Dorghalli -- Enterprise-Record)

CHICO — A caw echoes. Bushes rustle. A closer look reveals blues and greens and purples. Then a peacock emerges. A cascade of vibrancy extends far past its crowned head. It is a mystery to the neighborhood nestled on Centennial Avenue. How it got there, no one knows.

It is not alone. Approximately 30 more roam free in the yards of the neighbors. They are part of the street’s identity, and have been for 60 years.

They can often be seen and heard while walking down the south side of Bidwell Park toward Hooker Oak.

Marilyn Goolsby, 90, is one of the longest residents of Centennial Avenue. The neighbors know her as the expert on the peafowl.

“They’re very friendly,” Goolsby said. “They will give you a lot of affection.”

When she first moved to the neighborhood in 1960, the peacocks were already there. She was not surprised by them. Instead, she immediately embraced them as part of her life. As have the rest of the neighbors.

Ron Anderson is the third generation to live on Centennial. He’s been there since 1945. The peacocks spend much of their time on an empty dirt lot on his property. He has no memory of them from his childhood. He first saw them appear after he was married in 1959, around the same time Goolsby moved in next door.

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The backyards of the neighborhood intertwine. A walk through them is like an eclectic safari. Bamboo stands tall. Leaves scatter below. Bushes form mazes.

The peacocks maneuver their bodies with grace through it all, but they do not always remain on the ground. They hop, their colorful tails swaying in the air like petals of a dandelion. Goolsby will find them up in trees and on her roof.

Four chicks recently hatched. Standing at a couple of inches tall, they follow their mother closely. They all drink from a birdbath on Goolsby’s patio. Another mother laid eggs in a hidden corner of Goolsby’s home. She spends every hour protecting them. It’s expected they’ll hatch this week.

Gooslby’s son, John Goolsby, was 8 years old when the family moved into the neighborhood. He has fond memories of feeding the birds as a kid with his two brothers.

A nearby neighbor has three kids below the age of five who are now enjoying the peacocks as the Goolsby brothers once did.


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