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The Guinea Fowl – Interesting Facts and Information

Guinea Fowl Roosting

Guinea fowl, roosting in a tree in the woods.
Guinea fowl, roosting in a tree in the woods. | Source

Origin

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

Close up of a Guinea Fowl's head.
Close up of a Guinea Fowl's head. | Source

Description

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.

Personality

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

Guinea fowl on nest full of eggs.
Guinea fowl on nest full of eggs. | Source

Nesting

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.

Diet

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.

General Information

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.


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

Does this guinea think he is a turkey?
Does this guinea think he is a turkey? | Source

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!

Had you ever seen or heard of the guinea fowl before?

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Comments 28 comments

sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 12 months ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

That is interesting. Here, many people raise them for food. I would prefer to keep them for eggs and a burglar alarm! Thanks for stopping by! :)


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 12 months ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

I wish this one would have stayed around, but after a couple of weeks, he just seemed to disappear. I think he must have tired of hanging out with the turkey and went home. Thanks for stopping by! :)


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 12 months ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Thank you Cornelia! Guinea fowl are rather comical birds. The one we had visiting here has since either moved on or gone back home, we haven't seen if for a while now. Thank you for stopping by! (By the way, I enjoy your photography on TSU!) :)


DDE profile image

DDE 12 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Interesting and fascinating about the Guinea fowl. In South Africa the Guinea Fowl is a protected species. Therefore, it is not allowed to hurt these lovely birds.


CorneliaMladenova profile image

CorneliaMladenova 13 months ago from Cork, Ireland

Amazing hub. Never have heard of Guinea Fowl. It is so funny that they watch themselves in the mirror and their keets look so sweet, just like little ducklings. :)


Scribenet profile image

Scribenet 13 months ago from Ontario, Canada

My parents had a guinea fowl pair when I was young. They were interesting and different and lived amongst the hens but did their own thing if I remember correctly. We thought they were rather exotic and I do remember them raising an alarm whenever something was out of the ordinary. I rather liked them!


bdegiulio profile image

bdegiulio 13 months ago from Massachusetts

Great info Sheila. I have heard of the Guinea Fowl but knew very little about them. Interesting creature.


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 13 months ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

You are so welcome, Deb! I'm glad I could fill in a few things for you! Thank you for stopping by and have a wonderful day! :)


aviannovice profile image

aviannovice 13 months ago from Stillwater, OK

So glad that you put this together, Sheila. I knew that the birds existed, I have seen them, and my egg supplier gives me some of the eggs once in a while. I really knew very little about them, so you filled in a lot. Thanks!


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 14 months ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Thank you and you're welcome, Shauna! It's really a shame they have such beautiful feathers and such an ugly head! Thanks for stopping by! :)


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 14 months ago from Central Florida

What an unusual bird!They're so ugly they're cute. I haven't seen any around here, but we certainly have enough food for them in the surrounding landscape.

You've taken some beautiful photos of your visitors, Sheila. Thanks for the education!


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 14 months ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

They do have beautiful feathers, but such an ugly little head. I always enjoy seeing them when we drive around in the county. We have never owned any, but I would really like to some day. Thank you for stopping by, Blossom and have a wonderful day!


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 14 months ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

They are good burglar alarms! Most people in the country keep them to let them know of snakes, coyotes and other egg eating predators. Some keep them mainly for grasshopper and tick control, which is one big reason I would like to have some!


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 14 months ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

How funny, Mel. I had to go back and look at my picture, you're right he seems to be floating in air. I did not do any editing except to crop the picture a bit and brighten up the color. I don't know where his legs are!!! LOL


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 14 months ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

They are noisy birds, aren't they! I don't know if they would stay home or not either. I have to stand corrected, I was told by Dr. Mark that the guinea eggs were a bit smaller than chicken eggs and I'm sure he would know. I have corrected my hub and not using that source any longer for information. Thank you for stopping by, Jackie! :)


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 14 months ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

My dogs are famous for catching birds. I couldn't stand knowing they caught a guinea that we had brought home. I would love to get rid of the ticks around here. This past summer hasn't been bad, but last year was horrible! I will have to fix that information on my hub, apparently my resource was incorrect. Thank you for that information and for stopping by and commenting. Have a wonderful day!


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 14 months ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Thank you, moonlake! I wish we could have some guinea here on our place, but with two big dogs I'm afraid the guineas would meet an ugly death. Thanks for stopping by and the share! :)


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 14 months ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Thanks you so much, Patricia! I had heard and seen guinea many times over the years, but I learned a few things about them doing my research. I'm glad you enjoyed my hub and thank you for everything! :)


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 14 months ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Thanks, Audrey! They are kind of ugly, except for their beautiful polka dot feathers. Thanks for stopping by! :)


BlossomSB profile image

BlossomSB 14 months ago from Victoria, Australia

Love the pretty feathers. Years ago when our children were small my husband decided to keep guinea fowl as well as our hens and rooster, different kinds of pheasants and our son's pigeons. They were great fun, especially as our back neighbour complained about the noise of the rooster crowing, but she didn't know what the latest addition was, so kept quiet! We were delighted when we visited Cape Town to see them running wild in the undergrowth of the Botanical Gardens. Interesting article.


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 14 months ago from USA

In a neighboring community where there is a lot of crime and drug activity people keep them for the reasons you mentioned. Crazy. Interesting that they aren't good mothers.


Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 14 months ago from San Diego California

I haven't seen any guinea fowl out here in our neck of the woods yet. I'm not understanding the physics of your picture up on top. Where are the bird's legs, it looks like it is floating in the branches, but I don't see wing movement. Do Guinea Fowl defy gravity too? Great hub!


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 14 months ago from The Beautiful South

This is great to find out more about these birds. There is a flock of them near me and they come visiting quite often. What a sound! lol I am considering having a couple but I don't know how I would keep them home with another flock so near. Had no idea their eggs were that big, I assumed they would be small!

Very interesting!


DrMark1961 profile image

DrMark1961 14 months ago from The Beach of Brazil

Just in case you are interested, as long as you are willing to keep them away from your dogs the first four months they are safe after that. They can fly and dogs ALMOST never get them. (If you allow your females to nest outside they will probably get killed by racoons and other nocturnal wildlife.)

I do not know if you have Ehrlichia (Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever) in the area where you live in, but if you do keep a few birds you will never have a tick problem again. Much better than Frontline.

Also, their eggs are smaller than chicken eggs.


moonlake profile image

moonlake 14 months ago from America

I love Guinea wish I had one. They could sure take care of the ticks around here. I found a deer tick on my dog today. Deer bed down all around here and I can't keep my dogs out of their beds and I know that's where they get the ticks. I had Frontline on the dogs but guess they're ready for more.

Enjoyed your shared.


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 14 months ago from sunny Florida

Not the cutest face but gorgeous feathering...I have heard of them but have never seen one up close and personal.

What a wonderful hub full of interesting details I did not know about these creatures.

shared pinned g+ tweeted

Angels are on the way to you this evening ps


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 14 months ago from California

Ugly, but look at those feathers! Very cool post!


billybuc profile image

billybuc 14 months ago from Olympia, WA

Kinda ugly, aren't they? LOL That's just what we need, another bird on our urban farm. :) Next for us are doves, but even they will have to wait until next spring. I'm taking the winter off from building aviaries. Thanks for the information.

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