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Have you seen this peacock?

Honque leads Amy Thurmond on a merry chase
by: Vern Uyetake, You cannot miss Honque the peacock if he happens to come your way. His plumage is incredible.

Every time there is a sighting of Honque the peacock, Amy Thurmond seems to hear about it.

She gets cards and phone calls, and people stop her on the street. She gets peacock-themed gifts, and there is an Internet site on which the adventures of Honque was the hot topic of the day. Thurmond printed it out and it came to 19 pages.

"It's amazing how they get out information in this day and age," Thurmond observed.

Honque has been seen on the campus of Lewis and Clark College, where the students have formed a sort of Honque fan club, and at Riverview Cemetery, where nobody bothers him.

When Honque starts calling - sort of a combination fire alarm and fog horn - people gather around him and kids throw him food.

Thurmond said, "They say, 'Yeah, the peacock is right here!'"

This level of peacock popularity is amazing, and it seems Honque has appeared at just about every place in the area surrounding Dunthorpe - except in the place he should be: Thurmond's yard, where there is an aviary that is comfortable for any member of the bird kingdom.

Things have not worked as planned since Thurmond brought Honque home.

"Clearly, he does not want to get caught," she said, "even though he is tame and goes right up to people. I talked to some people from India (truly a peacock-crazy country) and they said male peacocks are notoriously difficult to catch."

Thurmond didn't have a lot of trouble catching Honque the first time. Last April she eagerly signed on to Monique Lynnellen's peacock project, which involved shifting some of the flock of peacocks in the Lake Forest neighborhood to Thurmond's home in Dunthorpe. It was crucial that she get at least one male to go with several peahens.

"My son Charlie and I ran down Honque and grabbed him," Thurmond said. "He was very calm and didn't fight when we picked him up and put him in a box. But the minute I let him go, he was gone."

Real, real gone, in fact. But one time Thurmond nearly caught him.

"We set up the peacock trap that was used at Monique's house," Thurmond said. "Honque was in there. We had him. But he found a tiny hole in the netting and flew out. He hasn't come near the trap since."

Clearly, Honque is smarter than the average peacock, and it has been tantalizing and frustrating for Thurmond to hear so many reports about the wandering bird.

But things have gotten worse. The tenacious Thurmond had caught five peahens and put them in her aviary with her four chickens. It seemed to be one big happy feathered family. But one day somebody left the gate open.

"All of the peahens and chickens got out," Thurmond said. "The four chickens came back."

Apparently, peahens have the same mentality as peacocks, but nobody has formed any fan clubs for them because they lack the dazzling plumage of Honque. How does Thurmond account for his popularity?

"Honque is beautiful, majestic and independent," she said. "He has the demeanor of a stallion. Which is probably why we haven't caught him. But he's healthy and he seems happy. He has really become a community peacock."

Thurmond admits to having "mixed feelings" about all of her peafowls running loose. But, she said, "It sure has been a lot of fun with them."

Still, Thurmond wants to get her birds back, and Honque is at the top of her wanted list.

But one thing is certain. To catch Honque, Thurmond will have to be very, very quick.