Like most motorists who ventured onto the snow and ice Friday, Terry Hatfield was watching the road like a hawk. That's why he didn't notice the peacock frozen to the back of his truck.
When Hatfield arrived at his job with the Lawrence Parks and Recreation Department Friday morning, a co-worker noticed something wasn't quite right in the bed of Hatfield's pickup.
"I pulled up, and one guy said, 'What's that bird doing in your truck?'" Hatfield said.
Turns out, one of the peacocks Hatfield keeps at his home near Tonganoxie used the truck for shelter during the heavy rains Thursday night. When the temperature dropped and the rainwater froze, the hen didn't move. And that's exactly the spot where Hatfield found the bird Friday morning, covered in ice with its back feathers and legs frozen to the truck bed.
The avian hitchhiker weathered a 15-mile, 45-minute drive on unplowed rural roads as Hatfield drove to work.
"She didn't catch a lot of wind, but I know she was cold," he said. "She had to be. She was frozen."
When Hatfield reached for the bird, it jumped away and broke free from the ice, leaving a slew of feathers in the pickup bed. It flew a few feet before Hatfield caught it by the legs.
Hatfield said the 2-year-old, 8-pound bird appeared unharmed. It spent the rest of the day in a toilet paper box inside the city's maintenance shop at 1900 Moodie Road. It ate a handful of grapes a city worker brought for lunch.
"It's the warmest she's been in several months," Hatfield said.
Hatfield, a maintenance worker, said he didn't notice the bird when he left for work at 5:30 a.m., despite feeding his dogs next to the truck bed and throwing a bag full of trash in his pickup.
The bird is one of three hens and one peacock that live at the Hatfield home. The birds like to play with the cats and dogs, Hatfield said. They eat cat food from the same dishes as the cats.
Hatfield took the hen home after work Friday. He said it probably was the most eventful day the peahen ever had. Most of the time, he said, the birds just "walk around and eat and poop."
"She's probably had it a lot better than the other three of them," he said. "All except that 45-minute ride."