The illustrious grounds of the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine will soon be without its three fabulously-feathered longtime residents: Phil, Jim and Harry.
Though the animal population of the Upper West Side is generally associated with the canine and feline variety, visitors from far and wide regularly hop on the 1 train and head to the Cathedral’s landmark location at 112th and Amsterdam. The Morningside Heights institution offers plenty to see, but peacocks have been a mainstay since the 1980s.
“When the peacocks first arrived, they were adult males and females,” Lisa Schubert, VP of Programming and External Relations for the Cathedral, told us in 2021 (when we wrote up a profile on the peacocks). “The Cathedral staff quickly learned that we just really couldn’t handle males and females together because in the breeding season, the males are pretty assertive!”
And so, Phil, Jim and Harry arrived as baby peacocks in 2002, adding a whimsical touch to the gardens with the goal of attracting guests. Named after deans of the Cathedral School, they’ve spent two decades delighting tourists and locals alike — but now it’s time for them to head north for their next chapter.
According to the Cathedral’s official Instagram account, the aches and pains of old age have come calling (this trio is past the average life expectancy for peacocks in the wild). After grappling with a leg injury in the fall – which was treated at the Center for Avian and Exotic Medicine, also on the UWS – Harry (affectionately dubbed the “bully” of the bunch) has already decamped to Animal Nation in South Salem, New York. Phil and Jim will be joining him later this month. The non-profit animal sanctuary will be able to provide specialized care and ensure a happy, healthy retirement.
Known for their community events, including the annual Blessing of the Animals, St. John the Divine will be celebrating the avian icons on Sunday, January 15 with a coffee hour in their honor following the 10:30 a.m. Holy Eucharist service. For anyone with fond memories of Phil, Jim and Harry, the Cathedral has set up a fund where you can directly gift in support of their care and feeding. The details are here.
When Mettawee River Theater Company performed in the garden at the end of their tour in September (?) , the peacocks took the audience and performers in stride . I expect that the peacocks will enjoy being around other animals at the Salem sanctuary .