The Guinea Fowl – Interesting Facts and Information
Guinea Fowl Roosting
Guinea fowl are birds within the order of Galliformes, which also includes such birds as turkey, grouse, chickens, quail and pheasant, along with a few others. They are native to Africa and the most common of the Guinea fowl, the “helmeted Guinea fowl” have been introduced in many other countries around the world including the US. Here in the US, the helmeted Guinea fowl can be found in many of the warmer states of the central and southern regions. Some people raise Guinea fowl for food or for their eggs, but others keep them as their farm “watch birds”.
Head of a Helmeted Guinea Fowl
The helmeted Guinea fowl is about the size of a large chicken. They have a round body and a small head for their size. Their head is featherless with a crest on the top and bright red “waddles” around its beak. It has dark grey or black plumage with obvious white spots. If you can overlook their rather ugly head, they are really rather beautiful birds.
Guinea fowl seem to have a personality all their own. They can be quite comical at times and love to watch their own reflection. They have been known to spend hours watching themselves in the reflection from glass patio doors. Some people put mirrors near where they keep their guineas and love to watch them “watch themselves”!
Guinea fowl are known to be territorial birds and don’t take well to visitors of any kind. They are very noisy birds with a loud chirping and screeching sound and will “alarm” when anything out of the ordinary comes around. Many people keep them to ward off egg eating predators such as fox, coyote, raccoon and opossum. They are useful in scaring off snakes and many times will group together catch, kill and eat snakes.
Guinea Fowl Nest
Guineas are known for being “seasonal” layers. Their eggs are a bit smaller than the average chicken egg and are very hard shelled. The guinea hen will lay eggs in a secluded nest on the ground. In season, they may lay one egg each day until they have a clutch of 20 to 30 eggs inside a deep, tapering nest. They like to hide their nest and will sometimes share the nest with other hens until they have accumulated a large clutch. The incubation period is about 26 to 28 days. They are also known for NOT being good mothers. Once the chicks, which are called “keets”, hatch, they are pretty much on their own. The mother may lead her keets out into tall grass and basically ignore them and many won’t return as they are highly susceptible to wet grass and can dry from the dampness.
The guineas diet consists mainly of seeds and insects. They are known for being ravenous bug eaters and are many times are kept to help control tick and grasshopper populations. They also eat ants, grasshoppers, wasps and flies as well as cutworms, grubs and snails. They also are known for being “weed” seed eaters and help in controlling the weed population. They rarely will bother your flowers or garden plants, they would much rather eat the insects they find there. They will also discourage rodents with their call and will kill and eat mice and rats.
They are typically social birds and live in small groups. They are mostly monogamous and mate for life, but there have been occasions when a guinea will choose another mate. They are very good runners and prefer to run from predators rather than fly. Their flight is quick, but short lived. Guinea fowl can typically live between 10 and 15 years depending on the number of predators in their area. The main predators of the Guinea fowl are fox, coyotes, hawks and owls.
Delicious Guinea Fowl Recipe
Many people raise guinea fowl for their eggs, which are higher in protein than regular chicken eggs as they are "thicker" with more yolk than white. They are also raised as a food source in many countries and are considered a delicacy by some. Their meat is mostly dark and moist with a bit of a wild flavor.
Helmeted Guinea with Wild Turkey
Guinea Fowl with Wild Turkey
The Guinea hen in the top picture of this post was roosting in a tree in our driveway. We do not own any Guinea and really don’t know of anyone around us that do. We had actually seen this guinea several times as he or she has been hanging out with a group of wild turkey that have been passing through our yard. We have wondered if he thinks he is a turkey or if he is just decided to go on an adventure. If we didn’t have big dogs that would try to catch and kill the guinea, I would definitely have them here on our place in the country to help control the grasshopper and tick population!