The Peacocks of Palos Verdes
Mr. Frank Vanderlip purchased the entire Palos Verdes Peninsula in 1913, and in 1916 constructed the first residential home on the Peninsula in the Portuguese Bend area of Rancho Palos Verdes, which he called the Old Ranch Cottage
Mr. Vanderlip developed a hobby of maintaining a large bird aviary just below The Cottage, which included a number of large bird coops and a large semi-circular pond providing a haven for migratory birds. Mr. Vanderlip also had a full time bird doctor living next door and a “bird hospital” built next to the pond.
The origin of the peacocks that inhabit the Palos Verdes Peninsula is somewhat disputed. Frank Vanderlip Jr.,in an interview, stated that the peacocks were a gift from Lucky Baldwin, a prominent investor and businessman and a friend of Frank Vanderlip Sr. around 1924. In this version, Mr. Vanderlip was visiting with Mr. Baldwin at Mr. Baldwin's estate in Arcadia, and admired his flock of peacocks that had originally been imported by Mr. Baldwin from India in 1879. Mr. Vanderlip then commented that his Villa Narcissa was "too quiet, and that Mr. Baldwin then gave Mr. Vanderlip 6 peacocks to "liven the place up". Elin Vanderlip in her book published shortly before her death, also states that the peacocks were a gift from Lucky Baldwin, This, however, would not have been possible as Mr. Baldwin died in 1909, prior to Mr. Vanderlip's purchase of the Palos Verdes Peninsula.
Frank Vanderlip with his bird coops at his Aviary
Another version has Anita, the daughter of Mr. Baldwin, giving the peacocks to Mr. Vanderlip years after Mr. Vanderlip had admired Mr. Baldwin's peacocks at Mr. Baldwin's estate prior to Mr. Baldwin's death. Yet another version, published by Francine A. Bradley, Ph.D. UC Davis, in a report to the City of Rancho Palos Verdes on managing peafowl on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, states that the original peacock colony on the Palos Verdes Peninsula was a gift of 16 birds from the daughter of William Wrigley, Jr. to Frank Vanderlip, Sr. from Mr. Wrigley's aviary on Catalina Island. This version was supported by an interview with Mrs. John Vanderlip (Suzanne Vanderlip ) in 2000. One thing that does not seem to be disputed is that in later years, Mr. Vanderlip's collection of birds ( other than the peacocks ) were donated back to Mr. Wrigley's aviary on Catalina Island.
The peacocks which had been maintained at the Vanderlip Estate in Portuguese Bend were apparently released in Portuguese Bend after Mr. Vanderlip’s death. It is suspected that some of the birds were introduced to Palos Verdes Estates by former mayor Fred Roessler sometime in the period from 1960-65. There are now numerous peacock colonies in Rancho Palos Verdes in the Crestridge, Vista Grande, and the Portuguese Bend areas, as well as in the Lunada Bay and Malaga Cove areas of Palos Verdes Estates.
For more history of Palos Verdes, see http://www.southbayhistory.com
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