Guinea Fowl on the Prowl

160106_GuineaFowl

[ Guinea Fowl – richardbarron.net ]

January 6 – A number of years ago we decided we would like to raise some guinea fowl. As a boy I had grown up in Zimbabwe, where guinea fowl are a common wild bird. They are speedy, noisy, and sharp-eyed. We placed an order for six guinea chicks with a seed and pet store in town, and brought them home when they arrived, along with the appropriate grain foods. It didn’t take long for them to start looking on me as dad, and to follow where I went. In due time, they outgrew that tendency and began running around the yard on their own. Guineas like to eat grasshoppers, ticks, and other insects, so they were great eliminators of pests. Fortunately they do not like garden produce, so I was able to have an unfenced garden and they ate only the bugs that came to feast on the garden. Chickens and ducks eat leafy vegetables when possible and have to be fenced in to protect the garden.

The guineas grew and grew and quickly became adults. The hens went off into the pastures around our house and made their nests and laid eggs. Lots of them, and the hens would sometimes share a single nest and lay their eggs along with others, leaving one hen to sit on them. The hens would disappear and often we did not know where their nests were. When I did find a nest, I would sometimes steal a few eggs and take them home for breakfast. The eggs are smaller than chicken eggs and a pale brown color, and they have thick shells.

160106_Eggs

[ Guinea egg, two chicken eggs, turkey egg ] 

On our piano top we have an assortment of curios and odd-and-ends, and I added three guinea eggs, trusting on their thick shells to hold the contents safely. Alas, one day we heard an explosion and found out that the thick shells had cracked, and the fermented contents were well splattered over the ceiling, piano top, and adjacent furniture. It was a smelly, nasty job to get the mess cleaned up. No more guinea eggs as ornaments!

To protect the little chicks when they had hatched and were running around after their mother, I decided to put them all into a box and set it in a little coop during the night. This I did, but mother hen did not like that arrangement and promptly attacked me, flying up into my face and acting very hostile. Hastily I put the box into the fenced area around the coop and fled the scene.

Most of the baby birds managed to survive and grew up into a busy flock that ranged our property, eating bugs and watching for predators. One day I noticed the group running back beyond the barn towards the edge of the surrounding woods, and then saw the face of a coyote peering out. Seeing the menacing birds approaching, the coyote promptly withdrew and was seen no more.

One hears that guineas are good watch”dogs” and will loudly announce the arrival of strangers, but oddly, ours did not do that. They were noisy in the morning, though, calling out from their roosts to greet the sunrise before flying forth to start finding insects and seeds. Guineas do a lot of attacking their fellows, making quick darts at a neighboring bird just as a matter of course. Maybe this is their way of showing who is boss.

The cock birds were especially prone to chase other cocks, and often we would see two of them speeding around the yard, with the chasing bird always a few feet back from the other. They would run and run and run, often circling the yard 20 times or more, and then we would notice that the chaser had somehow become the chasee and they would circle for another 20 times or more before quitting the chase and resuming their quest for insects.

160106_GuineaFowlHouse

[ Guinea’s coop on the right ]

At night the flock would settle down in their roost in the coop, on thin logs I had arranged, and in the morning I would open the door and let them out. A nearby neighbor had a dog that sometimes would come over to see us, and one day it took one of our guineas home to show the owner. It just happened to be the one white guinea that had hatched in our flock, and arrived at the neighbor’s place in bad condition. He didn’t even know what it was, but called us to tell that his dog had killed one of our birds and ask what he could do to repay us. You can’t really blame a dog for chasing down a bird this large and we said to not to worry about it.

Others of our flock took to running down the road in front of our house, and several were run over by passing vehicles, sometimes two at once, and eventually our flock grew pretty small! Finally we had just two roosters left and they took to spending nights perched in the big elm tree in front of our house. One morning we only had one bird left, with a big pile of feathers lying under the tree to prove that an owl had had a good supper. A week later the last guinea made owl food too, and that was the end of our guinea fowl flock. – DALE

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One Response to Guinea Fowl on the Prowl

  1. Jim Krause says:

    We liked this story and learned a lot about Guinea fowl. It seems worth getting more, just sad to see the loss happen. So sorry about your loss of a dear sister-in-law. Time marches on and leaves us always missing someone or something we have known. Heaven is our hope.

    Eileen

    >

    Like

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