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Guinea Fowl (Numididae)
Guinea Fowl are in the same family as turkeys, chickens, quail grouse, and other pheasants. They are native to Africa but have been brought to the US through farming. Some people raise them for their eggs, and others keep them as “watch birds”. Their behavior is infamously boisterous. The most commonly raised Guinea Fowl are the Helmet variety. They are about the size of a chicken, although are not like chickens in many ways and have a small head for its body. Its plumage is dark gray or black with white spots.
Types of Guinea fowl
- Crested Guinea fowl (Guttera edouardi)
- Helmeted Guinea fowl (Numida meleagris)
- Vulturine Guinea fowl (Acryllium vulturinum)
Guinea Fowl are funny. They like to travel in groups and will for lack of a better word “freak out” if one is removed or lost. Although they are often kept as “watchdogs” of sorts and do well in scaring predators away including snakes and foxes that might feast on their eggs and alerting owners to unusual activity on the farm, some keepers complain that they are loud all the time and will let you know when the wind blows. They don't present themselves as particularly intelligent, the mother fowl don't care well for their babies, when in a panic they put themselves in danger, and can easily be entertained by their own reflections in mirrors.
Guinea Fowl Breeding
Guinea Fowl are typically monogamous and mate for life, although there have been contradictions recorded in small amounts. You might think you lost one of your Guinea Fowl when the mother goes off to nest in the ground. The bird will find a place to hide, covered, and lay one egg each day until she has 20-30 eggs! Their eggs are a little smaller than chicken's and have very thick shells. Incubation lasts up to 28 days and the chicks born of this time are called “keets”. The mother will likely take off after they're born, and if not intervened, the clutch could die. When the owner finds a hatched brood, he may return the birds to the farm to be watched after by a broody, surrogate chicken.
What do Guinea Fowl Eat?
Much of the bird's time is spent scratching at the ground in search for food. Guinea Fowl eat mainly seeds and insects. They make for great pest control because they can do a lot of damage to the tick and grasshopper populations. They also eat seeds from weeds, controlling the spread of weed around your property! In addition, they also eat mice, rats, ants, wasps, flies, worms, and snails. Because they prefer these small animals, they aren't likely to ruin your flowers or garden plants.
How Long Do Guinea Fowl Live?
Depending on the number of predators around the area, the Guinea Fowl can live up to 15 years. Because of their popularity for keeping, their population is of least concern. In nature, they might be of least concern because of the large broods they yield, even though the mother often takes off and leaves the keets to defend themselves. They prefer to run from predators, but can also fly away in short spurts. Their obnoxious noises can also assist them with predators and often is enough of a deterrent.