NEWS | Jan. 23, 2018

Peacocks a tradition at U.S. Army North Quadrangle

By U.S. Army North Public Affairs U.S. Army North Public Affairs

No matter the time of day or what event is taking place at the historic location, the piercing squawk from the Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston Quadrangle can be heard from over a mile radius and is commonly referred to by visitors as a built-in alarm clock.

But, what animal is making all of that commotion? It’s the vibrantly colored peacocks.

It’s not clear when the peacocks arrived at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston.

“The first mention I have of the peacocks is from a newspaper article dated in 1898.  And, in the article, a soldier is making little wooden boxes to place the peachicks in, so that the deer also living in the Quadrangle won’t eat them,” said Jacqueline Davis, director of the Fort Sam Houston Museum. In the article, a Soldier is making little wooden boxes to place the peachicks in, so that the deer also living in the Quadrangle won’t eat them,” said Jacqueline Davis, Fort Sam Houston Museum director.

Peafowl is the proper name to describe these pheasant birds within the subfamily of Phasianinae. Peacocks refer to the male of the species, which are known for their flamboyant colored tail feathers of blue, gold and red hues. Peahens denote the females and the term peachick is reserved for the young offspring.

Visitors commonly ask Davis “why are peacocks living in the Quadrangle?”

“There is no good reason other than having peacocks was a popular thing to do in the 1800s,” Davis said. “Peacocks are native to Asia and were more than likely brought to Texas from India.”

Birds live in almost every ecosystem on Earth from frigid, sub-degree climates to the heat of desert during its hottest day.

Birds are important to the “circle of life” and help keep systems balanced in various ecosystems: they pollenate and fertilize plants, help control the insect population, mark the start of changing seasons and contribute to other various aspects of life.