HOUSTON - Those passing by neighborhoods like Memorial Drive Acres in West Houston may see something that seems odd: peacocks walking among the debris from Hurricane Harvey.
The neighborhood is used to the bright-feathered birds. Neighbors say they have been there for decades. The birds are not native. Experts said were introduced decades ago.
"There's anywhere from 50-200 of them at any point in time. Of course, the young ones are getting pretty big," said Kurt Nelson who has lived in the neighborhood for more than 20 years.
"There are people who kind of adore them, anyway, and the rest of us have a kind of love/hate relationship with them," said neighbor Julie Hansen.
The birds survived the storm, finding refuge in flocks on people's rooftops.
"They were sitting on these roofs along the top here, then they would hop from the tree and come across this little wall here, hopping from rooftop to another," said Nelson.
Finding seeds, insects, and small fruit amidst the rubble, the birds seem to catch the eyes of contractors and neighbors nearby. Some are catching less positive attention.
"They're pretty to look at, but they can be a little destructive," said Nelson. "They like to clean their claws on asphalt roofs. Sometimes people will shoo them away, but they can also be pretty dirty."
Leaving their droppings, and creating holes in neighbors’ homes are other complaints. There is also the noise.
"It sounds like a cat or baby crying," said Hansen. "Oh, God, the noise!"
"They'll make a mess on your home. They'll squawk. They'll make a mess on your car, if you know what I mean," said Nick Montalbano, a contractor who has gotten to know the birds very well.
Nevertheless, the birds have become permanent residents there.
"They are pretty much domesticated. They'll go near any 3-, 4- or 5-year-old," said Nelson.
One month after Harvey, neighbors worry the birds have scattered in order to survive.
"There are a lot less here than there used to be. That may change. They just moved to other neighborhoods that weren't flooded," said Hansen.
Tonight at 6 -- Peacocks now wandering about after Harvey @KPRC2 Neighbors give advice to those who aren't as familiar with the birds pic.twitter.com/n18xuFfCUB — Rose-Ann Aragon KPRC (@RAragonKPRC2) September 28, 2017
"I think once the construction settles down, I think they'll get back to their natural habitat," said Nelson. "The big issue is what happens along the Buffalo Bayou because that's their habitat, where they tend to hang out, and there's got to be construction around there."
For now, the peacocks are eating insects and small fruits. Experts advised neighbors not to feed the birds. Neighbors said if you don't bug them, they hopefully won't bug you.
"The people were here cleaning their house -- [the birds] didn't seem to bother them," said Montalbano.
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