Power to the Peacocks! The Spirit of Frances Langford, SLR/IRL

Frances Langford publicly photo.
Frances Langford publicly photo.
Standing before a giant photo of Frances Langford at Florida Oceanographic event 2013. (Photo Ed Lippisch)
Standing before a giant photo of Frances Langford at Florida Oceanographic’s event 2013. (Photo Ed Lippisch)
The former Langford Estate, cleared for development of Langford's Landing, 2015. (Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch and Ed Lippisch)
The former Langford Estate, cleared for development of Langford’s Landing, 2015. (Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch and Ed Lippisch)
Local celebrity Frances Langford stands next to a pen containing peacocks on her property in Rio. The peacocks roamed freely on her land while she was alive.
Local celebrity, Frances Langford, in her later years stands next to a pen containing peacocks on her property in Rio. The peacocks roamed freely on her land while she was alive. (Public photo)
Sign in Rio.
Sign in Rio.

As we all know, movie star and local philanthropists, Frances Langford, was and is very loved in Martin County. Nonetheless, recently her 53 acre river estate, in Rio, was mowed down for development to create ironically “Langford’s Landing.”  Yes, it was legal, but what a shame. What a crime of local history. Part of that history included Frances’ flock of peacocks.

Invasive or not, Frances brought the exotic birds to her property in the 1940s and they had been happily living here ever since. They became part of the cultural landscape of the Rio area. Over the years the county even erected signs warning drivers about the birds.

After Frances’ death in 2005 there were tougher times for the peacocks, peahens, and peachicks but they managed to survive. They had become “wild” living off the land although some residents would joyfully feed them. Kind of like cardinals…. 🙂

Sometimes stopping traffic as they lollygagg across State Road 707, the birds cause smiles and sometimes cursing and horn blowing from drivers. Inconvenient? Maybe— but so cool! So local! So “Frances”…..a reminder of her philanthropic spirit and love for our area with every sighting!

Of course since the 53 acres has been clear-cut and scraped the peacocks have lost their home base habitat. Did anyone even think about this? I mentioned it at a county commission meeting years ago.  Perhaps the county thought no one would notice when the birds fell on hard times or were possibly eradicated?

This was not the case. Not along the Indian River Lagoon…not in the land of River Warriors.

Yesterday there was a great win for the spirit of Frances Langford and the peacocks when resident Toni Rummo used social media to inform the public that a bank and real estate agency had “ordered the trapping of the peacocks at 1547 SW Sottlong  Avenue.”

The house is in foreclosure and the cleaning people were apparently put off by all the birds. This led to the trapping or quote for such.  According to Rummo some birds were trapped but after the outcry the others were left alone. Even the media, Sheriff’s department, and Martin County Commission got involved. It was crazy!

Than you to Toni Rummo and the others! Just to follow up, I spoke to Bill Dean head of Century 21 on Hutchinson Island whose company was incorrectly linked with the sale and he said it was a day like no other. The phone rang off the hook!

At the end of the conversation I said: “But isn’t it great? The love of Frances Langford and the people standing up for her spirit?”

We laughed. I recommended having a gin and tonic in her honor.

Thank you Toni for the peacock win!  It was a  win for the people of Rio. A win for the spirit of Frances Langford, and a win for the spirit of St Lucie River/ Indian River Lagoon!

One of Frances Langford's peacocks in a royal poinciana tree on her estate.
One of Frances Langford’s peacocks in a royal poinciana tree on her estate.
Rainbow over Langford Estate 2014. (Photo JTL)
Rainbow over Langford Estate 2014. (Photo JTL)


10 thoughts on “Power to the Peacocks! The Spirit of Frances Langford, SLR/IRL

      1. Ms. Thurlow you should educate yourself on the dangers of peacocks in over-populated numbers. They are a complete nuisance and a health hazard, they are a waste of water as we constantly have to wash excrement from everything that is outside,roof,cars,driveway,pool deck etc. They peck our cars to the point of bleeding and wake us up at all hours of the night ,usually at 3:30 every morning. My wife counted “32” yesterday on our front lawn at one time !!! It is now mating season and the males are squawking incessantly. How many more next spring?? We have lived on this street for over 25 yrs and never asked for these birds to invade our quiet, peaceful neighborhood. We are tax paying citizens of Martin county. This is not an agricultural area where they should be residing !!! We have gone to the town of Rio to report our grievances and all they did was send out a questionaire. We talk to many of our neighbors and not everyone is amenable to this bird. They have similar complaints as we do. How would you like this mess in your driveway, pool deck or back yard ??? They are killing our real estate values !!! We heard ‘bird arresters’ were installed at the new ‘Langford Landing’ development .The developers knew that prospective buyers would not purchase lots with these birds everywhere. Why don’t we relocate them back to Frances’ properties or how about your back yard in Sewall’s Pt. ?? I don’t think the residents of Sewall’s Point would put up with this for a minute!!!!!! We have also contacted Doug Smith and he just turns the cheek and ignores us. These birds have grossley over-populated and something has to be done !!!! They need to go to a zoo or distant farm for their good and the citizens. They get run over on Hwy 707 and cause car wrecks. What will it take to alleviate this problem. We love our Jensen Beach; our children were born and raised here when it was quiet and peaceful.
        We feel like victims of a situation we did not ask for. Many of our friends have left because they can’t sell their homes. We knew Frances Langford for decades and we don’t think she would appreciate the escalation of this situation.
        I believe you now can understand our side of the story. One or two peacocks to look at ….fine! Not an invasion of them! We would appreciate your response.

        Captain Buck Marlow

        1. Dear Mr Marlow,

          Thank you for your side of the peacock story. I can understand your perspective—I can. We did have peacocks in Sewall’s Point and some people despised them as they are messy. I loved them as I just do.

          There used to be enough space for all of us when there were more “empty lots,” and MC was smaller. Perhaps I am still caught in this time. But I will always love the peacocks. My husband and I had only one peahen visit us. She even laid an egg that I still have.—But not 32….

          Have you ever visited “The Fountain of Youth” in St Augustine? Maybe that should be the goal?

          You are welcome to call me 772-486-3818.

          Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch

  1. It is sad but I am sure some people think the whole lagoon should be DEAD, They do not marvel at a ecosystem that can support an unbelievable diverse quanity of life, They only despise Gods creation, I have moved about once a year for the last 35 years, I am certain some people would feel lucky to live with peacocks,

  2. I live here in Rio with the peacocks and I bought my home here partly because of the peacocks. I wake up every morning to 30 to 40 peacocks in my yard or crossing the street. I drive the speed limit here, which is slow, and I stop and let them cross. I have been known to help a stranded turtle across the road several times and once I took a wounded turtle to the vet that someone hit and left here after running it over and leaving it half alive and still moving. I consider myself an animal lover and maybe I belong on a farm.

    As for the peacocks, I don’t mind the poop on my car, I wash it off at the gas station. I don’t mind the noise at 3AM, turned on a loud fan and sleep with white noise to block it out. The beauty of these peacocks and the gentle nature of them has won me over and exceed the other concerns. They come right up to my children and myself and we enjoy seeing them daily. We have never fed them as we were told not to and they still walk up to us and look at us and stand by us as if to say, “look at me, here I am”. At other times they put on a quit a show running and spreading their big beautiful feathers at each other and we sit and enjoy the entertainment. In spring the babies will come and time will go on and we will watch them grow bigger and bigger and get pretty feathers. Only a small number of the babies make it to adults here in the group. It’s so nice to watch them. I love them and so do my guest who come here to explore Florida. We wouldn’t want it any other way. I would be extremely sad if the peacocks were no longer here. They are a part of my home.

  3. Now if only someone could have stopped the horrible devastation of that beautiful piece of property! It’s so sad the way the developers have literally plowed it down & left it so bare & ugly!
    Greed!! Not one shred of respect for a landmark!

  4. Just about everyone living in the country in most states have had “yard birds” Chickens that eat ticks and other insects, I have heard chickens in poultry farms are full grown in 90 days, I would say the full quarantine suit would be more for keeping the chickens in good health than the health inspector,

  5. Last year at our lagoon house commercial oyster fishermen were getting their licenses and I had the opertunity to tell them what happened to the lagoon, As I opened my album I said what you read in the papers is NOT what you will nread in my album—-One of them immediately said—THEIR LIEING,, Last week as I was gathering sea shells a woman came up and I told her my story—she said her whole family grew commercial oysters and this year her oysters were BIG AND BEUTIFULL, In my own way my goal has always been to educate the public as to what has happened to our lagoon and ALL our waters, ALL the county commissioners are up for election in November and because they are over FWC I hope to make the issues clear and to the point, I hope to write a short story to exsplain everything and I think the first sentence will read—-Our old ecosystem could have feed the world

Leave a Reply