Blue Boy proves he’s no featherweight

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 15, 2019

SALISBURY — You sometimes have to wonder whether Blue Boy really thinks he’s a turkey.

It has been four or five years now — Hugh and Judy Martin aren’t sure just how long — that they’ve been seeing a peacock in the wild around their tree farm off Poole Road.

Hugh remembers the day he first spotted “Blue Boy,” the name Judy came up with. He noticed a flock of turkeys walking near the woods in the distance, and Hugh swore one of them was a bit unusual.

He pulled out his binoculars for a closer look.

“I said, ‘My land, that’s a peacock,'” Hugh recalled. “I couldn’t believe it. There he was dragging his tail along.”

Surely, the Martins thought, this bird was once domesticated and ran away or was turned loose by his previous owner. As the weeks and months passed by, the Martins kept seeing the peacock on occasion.

“He runs with the wild turkeys,” Hugh said, still not quite believing it.

Over time, they have been able to get closer and closer to the bird, and now he’s almost one of the family.

“We saw him today,” Judy said early Monday evening. “We just got back from the farm. We hadn’t seen him in a couple of days.”

Judy has taken countless pictures of Blue Boy, whose body is definitely a study in blue like the famous Thomas Gainsborough painting from the 18th century. Judy even has a photo album dedicated to him.

“It’s her boy; she named him,” Hugh said, leafing through the album. “There’s a picture of him every day of the week, if you want them.”

But the Martins stress that Blue Boy continues to live in the wild on his own, despite his growing affection for the couple — and their food.

What proud peacock wouldn’t cozy up to the seeds, dried cherries and shelled peanuts Judy is constantly putting out for him? She sometimes picks up a special mix for Blue Boy at Tractor Supply.

Hugh said it has gotten to the point that Blue Boy hears his truck arriving at the tree farm, “and he comes a-running.” He knows it’s the food truck.

“He’s a character,” Hugh said. “We just about got him tamed. … He’ll come up right on my lap, nearly, but he doesn’t belong to us. We’ve just gotten to where we think he does.”

The Martins say other folks up and down Poole and Agner roads have seen the peacock, too.

“Some of the neighbors have said, ‘We fed him in our backyard,'” Judy said. “Everybody knows him. But you’ve got to be careful. He’s very leery.”

Last year, the Martins hadn’t seen Blue Boy for the longest time, until one day they were driving on Agner Road and spotted him proud as you know what in a field with a female turkey.

“He makes the damnedest noise,” Hugh said. “He’ll scare you to death. I guess it’s his mating call.”

As you might imagine, friends and family of the Martins also know about Blue Boy, and they often are asking the couple for peacock feathers. Hugh and Judy scour the woods for them and give them to people they know.

Judy has made a bouquet of peacock feathers for their dining room table. and she knows other feathers she gave away were used as decorations for a wedding in the mountains.

“When he loses his feathers,” Hugh says, “he looks like a turkey.”

Of course he does.

The Martins travel from their home in Salisbury about every day to the tree farm to feed one of their cats and replenish their feeders for birds and other animals.

Blue Boy has become a pretty regular visitor, and they’re just amazed he has lasted in the wild this long, still hanging out with the turkeys when he can.

Face it, Blue Boy must be able to talk turkey.

Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263 or