Paul arrived at the Harris country estate out of the blue one early summer day last year, and settled in to stay.
Though uninvited, the guest was welcomed with open arms by a pleasantly surprised Marty and Kerry Harris.
Such uber hospitality would probably raise not just a few eyebrows. After all, Paul was just a proud peacock strutting in the gardens around the spacious property as though he has lived there since the late 1980s when the house was built.
But that did not bother Marty and Kerry a bit. On the contrary, the nature-loving couple immediately developed a soft spot for the unexpected feathered friend.
Neither of them knew where it came from. But days later, the bird still did not leave so Kerry made sure it didn’t go hungry. She took it upon herself to feed Paul in the morning around 7 o’clock and in the evening around 4:30 and 5:30 p.m. every day. Like clockwork, the bird would appear in the back yard patio just outside the French door or window in the back of the house. Then it found a comfortable roost at night on the open-beam roof above the back patio. And that’s pretty much its daily routine. During the day, it simply roams freely on the spacious grounds surrounded by stands of trees and thick shrubs that give the property a woodsy feel.
It was Marty who christened the visitor who sought refuge in the rural residential property from the valley’s summer heat. The owner of Tuff Boy Sales, Inc. of Manteca didn’t just pull the name out of nothing. From sadness and personal loss came the inspiration. The surprise and mysterious arrival of the peacock seemed to be heaven-sent, for it was around that time that Marty lost a very dear friend, Paul Rebeiro.
The two men’s friendship was cemented not only by the fact their children — each of them had three — who all attended Manteca High where they were involved in sports, and often ran into each other while cheering their children on at various sporting events and supporting the school’s athletic program at every opportunity. They also shared a penchant for dancing. So, for 10 years, “he and I would go together to Danville” where they took lessons in all types of dancing — balloom, swing, foxtrot — the whole gamut, Marty said.
“It became a hobby for us, and Paul and I got to be good buddies,” he said.
Getting to know
Paul, the peacock
Months after the peackock showed up at their back yard, the bird still shows no sign of wanting to leave although it has every opportunity to do so.
“We don’t try to keep him penned in; we have a pretty safe area around here,” Marty explained.
But having the big bird around has been “a nice experience,” not only for him and his wife but for their young grndchildren as well.
“It’s been a nice experience for them to see the bird up close,” Marty chuckled.
He added, “I don’t know very much about peacocks,” but having Paul around has been a learning experience for him and for the rest of the family.
They’ve learned, for example, that the bird sheds its colorful plumes every year, “somewhere just before summer.” Then in the fall, it grows back to its full length. As for doing what the bird is famous for — spreading its feathers like a fan in glorious colors — he and his wife saw that happen only once. From what they were told, Marty said the bird goes on full feathered display only when there’s a female peacock around that it wants to impress, or if something makes it feel threatened.
Paul, the peacock, has not been the only feathered friend — though it’s been the largest —that has found the Harris property a pleasant place to eat and play or have a respite during the day on a migration stop. Marty and Kerry are treated year-round to a host of feathered visitors — herons, egrets, pheasants, hawks, sparrows, kildeer and magpies, among many others.
“We have swallows that come every year,” said Marty who surmises that “the birds feel safe about here.” One attraction is the drainage ditch that runs in an east-west direction on the north side of the property. He said there’s water there all year long, which makes it an easy and convenient water source for the wildlife visitors including the birds, to quench their thirst or simply to cool off.
“There’s a lot of bird and wildlife that lives all around the area,” he pointed out. “Kerry and I love birds and we like to see the many different types of birds in our area.”
As for Paul, the peacock, “He is our guest now, and if he decides to take off, we’ll allow him to go,” Marty said.
“We’re happy for all the time we’ve enjoyed him,” and for being there to help keep the memory of his late friend alive.
“The big thing for us is it gives us something to remember him (his friend Paul) by,” he said.
“I think it’s a gift for us,” he added about the arrival of the peacock at their property. “That’s how Kerry and I perceive it.”