Martinez residents include feral peacocks

  • Follow Rob Pavey

Columbia County’s unincorporated bedroom burg known as Martinez isn’t famous for much, but it does harbor one of the few sustainable colonies of feral peafowl, or peacocks, as the noisy males are known.

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You might have seen one crossing Old Ferry Road, or pecking at bugs near the sidelines at Kelley Field.

They thrive among the forested remnants of one of the area’s last undeveloped tracts – kept intact for decades by the family that first brought peafowl to their farm just before World War II.

In a 1998 interview with The Augusta Chronicle, landowner Florice Williams Clark, then 77, said her first husband brought home two of the birds around 1940 when development along Baston Road was sparse and the couple’s property sprawled across almost 350 acres.

Over time, portions of the property were sold off and became subdivisions, and the peafowl now live within the remaining 40 acres or so between Old Petersburg and Old Ferry roads.

Columbia County officials sometimes get complaints about their shrill calls, and affinity to pick and wander through cultivated flowerbeds.

Others enjoy the colorful birds and some residents even feed them.

In some communities, feral poultry can be a cause for celebration – even a tourism draw.

Places like Key West, Fla., capitalize on wild chickens, and here in Georgia, there is the Fitzgerald Wild Chicken Festival, and even the annual Peacock Festival in the crossroads community of Pavo, near Thomasville.

Do the Martinez peafowl have a future? Only time will tell.

CAPTAIN HONORED: Two Thurmond Lake boaters who helped save passengers blown from their houseboat during a severe thunderstorm last July 4 were honored with an International Lifesaving Award recently the Association for Rescue at Sea, Inc.

Jon G. Gridley, co-owner of Sea Tow Clarks Hill Lake, and his friend Jim Masiongale, were honored for their bravery in the July 4 incident that occurred as a storm pushed 50-knot winds.

During the storm, a man and young boy were blown into the water and a guest jumped in after them.

Masiongale and Gridley launched their boat and pulled the first man and boy to safety.

The other passenger was pulled onto the Sea Tow boat and revived as Gridley administered CPR.

CLAY PIGEON TIME: Regis­tration and orientation for the University of Georgia Extension Service 4-H Clay Pigeon Target Sporting Program will be held from 6-7 p.m. Jan. 26 and Jan. 31 at Savannah Rapids Pavilion.

The events are for both new and returning members from seventh to 12 grades. The yearly club fee is $140 and includes shells, clays, trophies, and competition fees to attend district & state matches.

The deadline to sign up is Feb. 10 and more info is available online at www.cc4hsafe.info.


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