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Helmeted Guineafowl

Appearance

The helmeted Guinea fowl has small rounded feathers coloured black and spotted with white that cover most of the body. Their head is bare skin and appears blue. A small wattle sits below the chin and is colored red. A red band runs around the top of the head. Their beak is yellow. On top of the head is a brown casque.

They stand 42.5-47.5cm (17-19in) tall and may weigh up to 1.8kg (4lb)

Diet

Helmeted Guinea fowl are omnivorous. They feed on seeds, berries, bulbs, flowers, termites, grasshoppers, snails and small invertebrates. On occasion they can also take small snakes and mammals.

Range

Populations of helmeted Guinea fowl can be found in Senegal, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Mali, Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Niger, Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, Gabon, Congo, The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Angola, Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Uganda, Kenya, Somalia, Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa.

Introduced populations can be found in the West Indies, Brazil and France.

Helmeted Guinea fowl

Scientific Name

Numida meleagris

Conservation Status

Least Concern

Height

42.5-47.5cm (17-19in)

Weight

1.8kg (4lb)

Lifespan

15 years

Diet

Omnivorous

Habitat

Their favored habitat is the open and dry habitats such as savanna, forest edge, thorn scrublands, rocky terrain and farmland. They have also begun to adapt incredibly well to living in cities such as Cape Town. Here they move slower and seem to know to stick to footpaths. They eat from people’s yards and spend their nights resting on roofs.

Reproduction

Breeding peaks over summer. In winter no breeding will occur. Pairs are monogamous. Their nest is hidden from view and is a simple scrape in the ground with no lining. The female will lay 6-12 eggs in this nest.

26-28 days later they are ready to hatch. These eggs are reduced to small fragments as the keets (Guinea fowl chicks) hatch. They are covered in fluffy down.

After a week they are already ready to fly up onto branches.

Behavior

This species spends most of its time on the ground. They are able to fly well though and will normally rest in a tree overnight.

The calls of the Guinea fowl include a rasping, stuttering and a grating “keerrr.”

Flocks of up to 100 birds may form. Groups have been seen mounting a communal defense against attackers. These gather together to forage.

Quick facts

Guinea fowl were first domesticated by the ancient Romans and are still farmed to this day.

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