Harry wandered into Jules Dewey's life, quite literally, in 2012.

He drew quite the spectacle back then, as much as one would expect for a peacock suddenly spotted in a neighborhood of townhouses in suburban Philadelphia.

"We don't mess with him, we don't touch him," said Dewey, who has been caring for the neighborhood fixture for six years. "He's just naturally curious. He wants to relax."

In the early days, residents on her block in Malvern's Charlestown Oaks development stood on their lawns, mouths agape, trying to take a picture of the iridescent bird whose arrival defied explanation. Then, just as quickly as he arrived, he was gone. And Dewey was disappointed.

That is, until he came back about six weeks later. And when Dewey learned that peacocks are in the height of their mating season in the summer.

In a few days, Harry will be gone again for his annual "walkabout." Just what an exotic fowl native to Asia is mating with in Chester County remains a mystery to all, including his willing guardian. But Dewey is confident he'll be back as August's heat peaks, with a shorter tail and calmer demeanor.

That first summer, when Harry returned, Dewey worried about him. She researched peacock diets, buying turkey feed and white bread in bulk.

"Someone had to feed him, had to check in on him," said Dewey, who works for a senior-care facility. "There aren't too many people to call about a wild peacock."

Julie Dewey talks about Harry, a stray peacock that she has befriended. The bird first wandered into her neighborhood in Malvern six years ago.
JESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer.
Julie Dewey talks about Harry, a stray peacock that she has befriended. The bird first wandered into her neighborhood in Malvern six years ago.

So she consulted with, of all people, Anita Thompson, the widow of Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson, who famously raised peacocks at his home in Aspen, Colo. Dewey and Thompson were longtime neighbors, and had remained friends, even after Dewey moved to the East Coast in the early 2000s.

Her daughter, 10 when Harry first arrived, gave the bird his unofficial name. He made an uneasy alliance with Kanye, Dewey's cat, who now watches the bird as it lounges on her deck.

And, all the while, she and her neighbors posted pictures online, trying to figure out where the bird might have come from. Their research yielded no definitive results.

"You would think, with the amount of attention a peacock attracts, that someone would say something," Dewey said.

And yet "no one would claim him," Rhonda Forbes said during a recent walk around the block with her dogs Milo and Benny. In the distance, Harry slowly strolled, grabbing the mutts' attention.

"He's not a nuisance," Forbes added. "I laugh whenever someone moves in: My next door neighbor just got here a few months ago, and she asked me if peacocks were native to Pennsylvania."

Dustin Stoner, the information education supervisor for the state game commission's southeast region, confirmed that, no, they are not. Nor is it illegal for anyone to feed or look after one.

"Under state statute, a peacock is considered a domestic fowl, similar to a chicken or a guineafowl," Stoner said. "And there's no requirement under game law for someone to get a permit to possess a peacock. It'd be like if you went to the store to get ducks or chicks."

As for the folks at the homeowner's association, they don't seem to mind. Dewey said they're well-aware of Harry, and have fielded a few calls about him over the years from surprised newcomers.

Kevin Bowes, the property manager overseeing Charlestown Oaks for Camco Management, declined to comment.

Jules Dewey's cat, Kanye, stares at Harry, the stray peacock who has been roosting in her Malvern neighborhood for six years.
Courtesy Jules Dewey
Jules Dewey's cat, Kanye, stares at Harry, the stray peacock who has been roosting in her Malvern neighborhood for six years.

For half a decade, nothing seems to have bothered Harry, not even the blistering cold and snow characteristic of a Pennsylvania winter. When the temperature drops at night, Harry roosts under Dewey's deck. She laid out cement pavers down there, giving him a perch slightly above the frozen ground.

And, during the day, he continues his routine, regardless of the weather.

"He is such a beautiful sight. It really is a treat for us," said Jigna Raval, who lives up the road from Dewey. She grew up surrounded by peacocks in Gujarat, India, and Harry was a pleasant surprise when he first showed up a year ago, as she and her husband unpacked their moving boxes.

"Seeing him took me back to my childhood," Raval said. "It made it easier to adjust to a new neighborhood."

Dewey is unsure how old Harry is, only that he's an adult male peacock. With peacocks having an average lifespan of about 20 years, he's likely got a full life ahead of him.

But in two years, her daughter will finish high school. Dewey and her boyfriend, Michael Brown, have thoughts of selling her townhouse and buying a larger property. But every conversation about the future inevitably goes back to Harry.

"One of my biggest concerns is 'What do I do about the peacock?'" Dewey said. "I would feel responsible for him if I moved. This is his home base."

Until that time comes, however, she'll toss out bread every morning and keep an eye out for the bird that came to stay.