Our Birds - Guinea Fowl

Our Animals >Guinea Fowl

Guinea Fowl at The Farm at Walnut Creek in Ohio

The guinea fowl (sometimes called guinea hen) is a family of birds in the Galliformes order, although some authorities (for example the American Ornithologists' Union) include the guinea fowl as a subfamily, Numidinae, of the family Phasianidae. The guinea fowl are native to Africa, but the Helmeted Guinea fowl has been domesticated and both feral and wild-type birds have been introduced elsewhere.

 

Description and Ecology

This is a family of insect and seed-eating, ground-nesting birds that resemble partridges, but with featherless heads, though both members of the genus Guttera have a distinctive black crest, and the Vulturine Guinea fowl has a downy brown patch on the nape. Most species of guinea fowl have a dark grey or blackish plumage with dense white spots, but both members of the genus Agelastes lack the spots (as do some domestic variants of the Helmeted Guinea fowl). While several species are relatively well known, the Plumed Guinea fowl and the two members of the genus Agelastes remain relatively poorly known.

The species for which the information is known are normally monogamous, mating for life. However, occasional bigamy has been recorded for the Helmeted Guinea fowl (Madge and McGowan, p345-352). All guinea fowl are social, and typically occur in small groups.

They are large birds which measure from 40-71 cm in length, and weigh 700-1600 g.

The Helmeted and Vulturine Guinea fowl generally occur in open or semi-open habitats such as savanna or semi-deserts, while the remaining species of guinea fowl mainly occur in forests.

The Helmeted Guinea fowl has been domesticated and introduced outside its natural range, for example in southern France (where they are known as Pintade), the West Indies, and the United States.

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