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Coconut Grove peacocks relocated to Redland avocado grove for TV show

Of the squadrons of peacocks haunting several Miami-Dade neighborhoods, none are as famous as the feisty fowl that live in Coconut Grove.

Their squawking, pooping and occasional sharp pecking — along with the Grove’s leafy tropical background — has landed them in the national limelight, from a story in the New York Times to a segment on CBS’ Sunday Morning.

Some of the Pavo cristatus were moved to a kindly avocado grower’s Redland grove — and this time the Discovery Channel was there, capturing the peacocks’ latest adventure.

They were recently featured on a segment of Discovery Channel’s show Verminators, which focuses on a California pest-control company’s toughest cleanup jobs.

And, yes, collecting the Grove peacocks was tough.

Wielding big nets, the Verminator staff ran, lunged and, in some cases, belly-flopped onto the concrete. The nimble, noisy peacocks managed to give the bug-busters the runaround for several days.

But now about 15 of the peacocks are enjoying the placid country life among Redland’s expansive fields of avocados, green beans and decorative palms. Farmers have played host to the birds for generations.

“We’ve been here for over 40 years and there’s always been peacocks around our house,” said Sidney Robinson, owner of Sandy Acre Avocado & Mango who volunteered to take the Grove peacocks. “I like to say we major in avocados and mangoes and minor in peacocks.”

He and his wife, Maryannette, supplement whatever fruit veggies and flowers the birds can get at with crusts of bread and scoops of dry cracked corn.

The showy critters share the Robinsons’ land with slithering iguanas and a shy, brownish miniature hen named Chick-Chick — that chooses to roost at the bottom of a plastic bucket.

During a recent tour of the farm, a bevy of about seven or eight peacocks — including a peahen with four juveniles — appeared from all over the yard at the rustling of a sandwich bread bag.

“They’re losing their feathers because this is the time that they molt,” Maryannette Robinson said, pointing at a peacock missing its eye-popping fan, a lone remaining tail feather clinging limply to its rear end.

A search could turn up the shiny-plumed fowl for miles around, Robinson said.

“There are whole families of them, and they just go wherever they want from farm to farm,” he said.

The cast of Verminators trapped and relocated about 15 of the Grove’s big birds this year, releasing them on Robinson’s seven-and-a-half lush acres.

The Verminators are used to stalking and killing cockroaches, mice and rats. On the show, employees of California-based Isotech Pest Management travel the Southwest tackling some of the area’s nastiest infestations.

But, during a special episode filmed in South Florida earlier this year, the peacocks that cluster — and fray many a nerve — on Coconut Grove’s Micanopy Avenue managed to give Isotech’s workers quite the workout.

“We were in awe of the peacocks, how fast they were,” said show host and Isotech owner Mike Masterson. “Everybody was running like mad.”

Eventually, Masterson said, he and his crew were able to herd the fowl into a makeshift corral of netting sheets strung up between two concrete structures.

Because the Grove is an avian sanctuary, Miami and county law prohibit the killing or unlicensed trapping and relocation of the birds.

Masterson said some of the area’s residents contacted the show last fall hoping for help with the feathered invaders. That sparked the channel’s interest in filming a removal operation.

Part of a two-episode South Florida special, “Gator Bait” also featured the West Coast pest patrol wrangling 11-foot alligators in a suburban backyard.

Some of the residents on Micanopy (pronounced Mick-an-OH-pee) were surprised to find the Discovery Channel had set up a crew along their street.

Roni Medvin, like many of her neighbors, appreciates the peacocks’ beauty but is tired of the late-night screeching and copious droppings, which can cause considerable damage to a car’s finish.

“And these birds are heavy. They make a loud noise when they land on your roof,” she added. Pavo cristatus males can reach 13 pounds in full courtship plumage, while females top at eight pounds. Their calls and footfalls frequently shake people out of sleep.

Medvin said it’s not the first time she’s gone outside and found TV people on her doorstep.

“I can’t remember exactly when it was, but we were on CBS’ Sunday Morning,” she recalled. “I open my door and Mo Rocca is standing there,” she said, referring to the comedian and contributor to the show.

Ken Tobin said he found the Verminators’ performance amusing to watch, although, in the months since the filming, the relocated birds have been replaced with a new generation.

“They just keep multiplying. I think we have a couple hundred of them just in the North Grove,” he said.

Masterson said keeping the peacock population in check would be a big challenge. “You’d have to do something like this, trapping some of them, every year.”

Meanwhile, Medvin said she had missed the first airing of “Gator Bait.”

“We didn’t even know when the show was going to air,” she said. “I think everybody around here missed it.”

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