Locals who drop by the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in New York City have long known to keep an eye out for its most glamorous patrons: its three peacocks. Harry, Jim, and Phil, who were named after prior heads of the church, are beloved members of the community. Phil, the white peacock, even has his own Twitter account.
But what the birds didn’t have was a fancy home that suited their style. Until 2017, that is, when the cathedral gifted the peacocks with a new, updated hutch.
The peacocks’ old abode was a shabby plywood structure, which was somewhat of an eyesore unbefitting of such beautiful creatures. A competition commenced in 2014 to design a new home for the fancy fowl. The winning hutch was officially opened during a blessing ceremony.
Afterward, Harry, Jim, and Phil would retire to their own state-of-the-art home, complete with pointed arches and windows that pay homage to the cathedral’s Gothic architecture. The walls are lightweight and yet insulated enough to keep the peacocks warm at night. The cathedral even plans to install an extra step in front of the entrance, as the peacocks are developing arthritis in their old age.
The three birds arrived on the cathedral grounds in the early 2000s. Visitors could watch the birds strut around the gardens, where they were known to flash their feathers. Those passing through the neighborhood could hear their squawks, especially during mating season.
The cathedral, which is known for its annual Blessing of the Animals, has kept peacocks since the 1980s. Its gardens also house an urban honey bee sanctuary.
In January 2023, the peacocks retired from their position at the cathedral. The church held a celebration to honor Harry, Jim, and Phil before the birds headed to their new home, a nonprofit animal sanctuary in South Salem, New York. The busy cathedral grounds were not the best environment for an aging peacock. It is not yet certain if new peacocks will fill their space on the grounds of St. John the Divine.