Vulturine Guineafowl Fact File
Credit: Quartl, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Wild 15 years
Captive 15 years
Vulture by Name Not Nature!
The vulturine guinea fowl is named for the bald head which is similar in appearance to that of a vulture.
Females deposit their eggs in to a shallow scrape in the ground. At hatching the young are able to move around on their own and find their own food.
Their population is considered stable with only their natural predators such as monkeys and raptors causing population declines.
Read on to learn more about these beautiful birds.
What does the Vulturine Guineafowl look like?
The body of a vulturine guineafowl is covered by grey and black feathers with black and white streaks of feathers running through their body. Small white dots are present on the back feathers. On the breast area they have cobalt blue feathers.
Their name is taken from the vulture-like appearance of their head which has no feathers. A small horny helmet is present on top of the head. This head is colored blue, red and yellow.
They have a short black beak with a mild downward curve and the iris is colored red.
Spurs are present on the back of the legs and are typically larger in males.
An average vulturine guineafowl will measure between 50.8 and 52.8cm (20-24in) long. They have a weight of between 1 and 1.6kg (2.2 to 3.5lbs).
Males and females have a similar appearance.
How does the Vulturine Guineafowl survive in its habitat?
This species occurs in relatively dry environments and as a result is well adapted to a life without water. They can take much of their water needs from the vegetation on which they feed.
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What does the Vulturine Guineafowl eat?
Vulturine guineafowls are considered omnivores with a wide ranging diet. This may include seeds, roots, tubers, small mammals and insects.
Foraging takes place on the ground where they will scratch through the undergrowth for food.
Where do you find the Vulturine Guineafowl?
Africa is the native home of the vulturine guineafowl. Here they can be found in the following countries – Ethiopia; Kenya; Somalia and Tanzania.
Where can the Vulturine Guineafowl survive?
They make their hime in forest, savanna, grassland and shrubland habitats.
Credit: Public Domain
How does the Vulturine Guineafowl produce its young?
Breeding takes place during the rainy season.
A clutch of eggs include between 3 and 18 eggs. Compared to other birds they have a thick eggshell which they must break out of rather than chipping away at it like most birds do. The egg is colored brown or cream.
After 28 days of incubation the chicks will hatch with gold and brown feathers.
Their nest is a simple scrape formed in the ground by the female. They will locate this in a covered area such as a grass tussock or rock.
Within a few days of hatching these birds can take flight for the first time. It takes 10 weeks for the chicks to fledge.
Sexual maturity is reached at 2 years old.
In captivity this species has been seen to produce 3 clutches of eggs in a season giving them a total of up to 40 eggs per season.
What does the Vulturine Guineafowl do during its day?
This species is active during the day. At night they will roost in a tall tree. They will also seek out shelter during the hottest part of the day.
They are rather aggressive towards other vulturine guineafowl and have been seen to fight to the death over food.
When disturbed or excited this species will produce a loud call.
These animals are seen moving around in groups of between 20 and 30 individuals. During the breeding season these groups will split in to pairs or they may even live alone.
Recent research has shown that unlike most birds this species is able to keep track of who is in their group and as a result their groups are relatively stable. This study also found that groups regularly meet and interact.
While most of their time is spent on the ground this species is also a strong flier.
Credit: Bernard DUPONT from FRANCE, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Predators and Threats
What stops the Vulturine Guineafowl from surviving and thriving?
Natural predators of the vulturine guineafowl include monkeys, raptors and other small mammals. These primarily target eggs and chicks.
The population of the vulturine guineafowl is believed to be stable with no evidence of a decline in their population.
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This species may also be known as the royal guineafowl.
Credit: Sankara Subramanian, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Mpalalive.org. 2022. Mpala Live! Field Guide: Vulturine Guineafowl | MpalaLive. [online] Available at: <https://www.mpalalive.org/field_guide/vulturine_guineafowl> [Accessed 2 April 2022].
The Conversation. 2022. The unusual social habits of East Africa’s vulturine guineafowl. [online] Available at: <https://theconversation.com/the-unusual-social-habits-of-east-africas-vulturine-guineafowl-127068> [Accessed 2 April 2022].
Zoobarcelona.cat. 2022. Vulturine guineafowl. [online] Available at: <https://www.zoobarcelona.cat/en/animals/vulturine-guineafowl> [Accessed 2 April 2022].
Oiseaux-birds.com. 2022. Vulturine Guineafowl. [online] Available at: <http://www.oiseaux-birds.com/card-vulturine-guineafowl.html> [Accessed 2 April 2022].
Seaworld.org. 2022. Vulturine Guineafowl Facts and Information | SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. [online] Available at: <https://seaworld.org/animals/facts/birds/vulturine-guineafowl/> [Accessed 2 April 2022].
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