Tag Archives: peafowl

The Return of the Mary Todd of Old

31 Aug

I have already shared the story of the LMU-Duncan School of Law’s beloved peahen, Mary Todd. Recently, there has been much concern surrounding Mary Todd and her well being, so earlier this week when I saw her perched on the roof of her purple house I breathed a heavy sigh of relief.

 

The corner where Mary Todd made a nest for her eggs.

Midway through July, the gentle bird that had spent the past three years splitting time between her comfy house, an adjacent courtyard and LMU-DSOL’s roof began to display some uncharacteristic behaviors. She holed up in one area and stayed put. Later she started reacting unpredictably when people approached her, even the students who had been responsible for leaving food for her.

Finally, staff found two eggs that she had laid. Soon after they were first spotted, Mary Todd began nesting. For over a month and a half she sat on the eggs and fiercely defended them. I once witnessed her swooping after a squirrel that I’m sure didn’t realize she was there until she attacked.

Since Mary Todd is a feral bird, we could not be certain the eggs were in fact fertilized. She could have found another feral peacock while away from LMU-DSOL ground and it is also not unusual for peahens to lay unfertilized eggs. After contacting officials with LMU’s Veterinary Technology department and UT’s Veterinary School, it was determined that the eggs had been around longer than a natural incubation period. Following that advice, the eggs were retrieved and just like that we had our Mary Todd back. The UT folks said that had the eggs remained, Mary Todd ran the risk of starvation, since she was not leaving the nest for nourishment.   

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Is Mary Todd haunting the LMU-Duncan School of Law?

19 Jul

At any law school you would expect to see stacks of dusty legal books, students feverishly studying and pockets of distinguished faculty engaged in debate. At the Lincoln Memorial University-Duncan School of Law (LMU-DSOL), you’ll see all of those things. Walking through the halls of Knoxville’s historic Old City Hall you’ll also catch a glimpse of Mary Todd.

However, it is not a portrait, statue or even the ghost of the University’s namesake’s wife you’ll spy, but an Indian peahen that has made a courtyard at LMU-DSOL her home.  The unofficial mascot of the law school, Mary Todd, arrived on the scene during the renovation of Old City Hall. The commotion of a multi-million dollar renovation never scared her away and as the inaugural class of law students arrived in August of 2009, it became clear that the peahen was here to stay. It was the inaugural class who named her.

Indian peafowl are native to South Asia, however semi-feral fowl are not uncommon around the world. The peafowl are polygamous by nature with one male nesting with multiple peahens, though females do not appear to favor specific males. Contrarily, some research has shown the peafowl to be more monogamous, with a surviving mate being outcast from a group following a death or disappearance of their mate. This along with abandoned pets and wandering peafowl can account for the origins of the feral population. Just a couple months ago, a wily peahen escaped from the Bronx Zoo and Twitter buzzed with peahen sightings and tales of her roaming the streets and dodging zookeepers. After three days on the lam, the peahen returned to the zoo.

Peahens are omnivorous, feeding on seeds, fruit, insects, snakes and small mammals. Mary Todd forages for food around the LMU-DSOL courtyard where the students have erected a shelter for her. LMU-DSOL students, faculty and staff also supplement her diet, leaving food periodically. She spends her days peeping through a glass wall outside the second floor hallway outside one of DSOL’s largest lecture halls, so most students pass her every day. Occasionally, Mary Todd wanders to the roof for a bird’s eye view of the City of Knoxville.

Mary Todd has even inspired Halloween costumes and has been used in marketing for the University. Already a media darling, she is often cited in news articles about the school.