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Persistence pays off on peacock project

Monique Lynnellyn, Amy Thurmond team up to put colorful birds in right place
by: vern uyetake Sitting in stately color on a backyard fence, a beautiful peacock anticipates getting his usual meal at sundown. A Lake Oswego woman is working to thin the bird herd in the Lake Forest neighborhood.

There is a peacock problem in Lake Oswego. Monique Lynnellyn wants to solve it.

If that means people want to call her the "Peacock Lady,' that is fine with her.

However, being the Peacock Lady is truly a tough job because she is misunderstood by everyone involved, both peacocks and people.

Lynnellyn's goal is to catch three hens and a cock and move them to another location. But the peacocks, being wild creatures, don't want to be caught, even if it is for their own good. And the great majority of Lynnellyn's neighbors in the Lake Forest area are quite fond of the peacocks, and they're suspicious she is trying to wipe out the flock of 14 peacocks.

You can't blame them for worrying. The neighborhood's previous peacock flock was massacred 10 years ago by a transplanted Texan who used them for target practice.

Yet Lynnellyn has the utmost consideration for the feelings of everyone involved, especially the peacocks.

'There are too many peacocks in this flock now,' Lynnellyn said, 'and problems happen with an overpopulation of peacocks. When there are too many peacocks they become feral and you can't control them. We have nine hens and five cocks, and a population explosion is about to happen.'

Lynnellyn is certain of this because she is an expert on peacock calls, and recently she has been hearing mating calls night and day.

'Peacocks lay only two or three eggs a year, but that is still too many for this neighborhood,' Lynnellyn said. 'Some people think I want to get rid of all of them, but I just want to relocate two or three hens. Nobody is getting killed. The flock will still be here.'

Lynnellyn feels responsible for the peacock flock because she was the one who started it 10 years ago, after the previous flock suffered its untimely end. She and a peacock-loving pal took the greatest pains with their neighbors to assure the well-being of the exotic birds, sending out letters and questionnaires and holding meetings.

They were met with overwhelming acceptance. But Lynnellyn also got some death threats from peacock haters, mainly those who hate the birds' loud, piercing calls. Lynnellyn never worried.

'This is Lake Oswego,' she noted.

The unflappable Lynnellyn has formed a relationship of fascination and friendship with the peacocks. Every evening at sundown she sits on her back porch, with big bags of food that peacocks like, and calling out 'Peep, peep, peep! Peep, peep, peep!' time after time, in a high, piercing voice, just like a peacock. The peacocks fill up the porch, as many as six at a time, and often eat grapes out of her hand. They even sit in her lap.

'They do recognize their names,' Lynnellyn said, 'and they call back.'

Names? Yes, Lynnellyn has named all 14 of them, including Chuq, Bonq, Hee Haw, Dangle, Beep and Honq. Lynn slips in a "Q" in their names whenever possible.

Honq, for instance, got his moniker for facing off cars coming down the street until they honked. Then he would try to imitate them. Honq can be a one-bird traffic jam.

However, there is trouble in peacock paradise. Too many peacocks will mean paradise lost, and the future did not look good until Lynnellyn met a person as persistent, patient and dedicated when it comes to peacocks as she is: Dr. Amy Thurmond.

Thurmond has an amazing and diverse life with her medical career, as a bass player with a soul band and as a gas station attendant at her son's service station, Bill's Old Fashion Service. Thurmond is also quite an animal lover.

'I've had pigs, geese, ducks, chickens and goals,' Thurmond said.

But Thurmond also wanted a peacock, plus she wanted to give her husband a peacock as a wedding anniversary gift. Fortunately, she met the one woman who could help her.

'Monique drove into Bill's station when I was pumping gas one day,' Thurmond said. 'I've been wanting peacocks for 20 years, but they're hard to catch.'

'Amy came up and said, 'I understand you have peacocks,' ' Lynnellyn said.

They quickly worked out a deal.

'I told Amy I would give her one male if she would also take three hens,' Lynnellyn said.

Soon, Thurmond took action. She equipped herself with a large salmon net, large enough to catch a peacock, and then she set up a ingenious trap right on Lynnellyn's back porch. Netting encompassed most of the porch, a tarp was set up to quickly spread once a peacock followed a trail of corn and grapes inside, and at the rear there was a back room in which several large cardboard boxes had been optimistically placed for transporting the peacocks to their new home.

'There goes the great hunter, Amy,' noted Lynnellyn as Thurmond stalked the yard with her big net.

'I feel like Elmer Fudd trying to catch Bugs Bunny,' Thurmond said.

But Thurmond didn't even need a net to capture her first peacock. She simply outran him, grabbed him, put him in a box, and soon the bird was off to Thurmond's house in Dunthorpe.

Disappointingly, the plan laid an egg at that point when the peacock soon disappeared. Thurmond thinks he is now on the campus on Lewis and Clark College, searching for a hen.

But good things come to those who chase. The next day Lynnellyn and her renter, Dustin, caught a hen, which was truly crucial to the effort.

'I gave the chow call and in came the bossiest one, the one who was pecking the others,' Lynnellyn said. 'She came in like she owned the place. Dustin closed the slider and we called Amy.'

One peacock down, two to go.

The next day, Monique and Dustin thought they had trapped two hens. Eureka! But the peacocks started flying around the little room. It was like a scene out of the Marx Brothers movie 'Room Service.'

'Dustin and I kept ducking,' Lynnellyn said. 'They found a gap in the netting, pushed it open and jumped out. They gave their beeping warning sound for danger when they got outside.'

Still, you can't doubt that the peacock project will reach success. Not when you see the gleam of determination in Thurmond's eyes while she tracks peacocks in Lynnellyn's backyard.

When this comes to pass, Lynnellyn will have accomplished a unique humanitarian effort. She also wants to accomplish something else.

'I want to dispel the rumors that I'm crazy,' Lynnellyn said. 'I am an artist, so I do have a license to be unique.'




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