Photo: Karen Kedmey

Birds and Bees

Adding to the community and beauty of the Cathedral Close are a variety of resident creatures. Perhaps the most memorable (and photogenic) are the peacocks, who go by Jim, Harry, and Phil. They roam the grounds freely on their dinosaur feet, displaying their lustrous tails with the seasons. They are most vocal in the spring, when their cries compete with the Amsterdam Avenue traffic.

Jim and Harry, blue males, arrived in 2002, and white-feathered Phil after that. Jim is named for the dean of the Cathedral, The Very Reverend Dr. James A. Kowalski, and Harry for a former dean, The Very Reverend Harry H. Pritchett Jr. Phil is named for Phillip Foote, the former head of The Cathedral School.

Peacocks have long been symbols of immortality, since ancient lore holds that their bodies do not decay after death. Thanks to their cyclically-shed feathers, as well as their resemblance to the mythical phoenix, they are also powerful symbols of renewal, adding to the spiritual space of the Close.

Photo: Karen Kedmey

In the early summer of 2012, Cathedral guests joined The Right Reverend Mark Sisk in an outdoor ceremony to bless the Cathedral’s newest co-habitants: a hive of 15,000 Apis melliflera, a gentle and mild-tempered species of honeybee. Since then, the Biblical Garden and the spring tulips, The Cathedral School’s nature activities and the Close’s flowering trees have all benefitted from having their own nectar-sipping, pollinating workforce. Eventually, an artisanal honey, “Divine Honey,” will be extracted from the hive. The hive is maintained by the beekeepers of NYC Beekeeping.