Saturday, May 09, 2009

Cambridge Life: 5/7/09 Birds of a feather Cambridge Life: 5/7/09 Birds of a feather

Photo by Debra Pearlman

On Thursday past, I spotted these two handsome birds in the field next to my house. They are Guinea Fowl. Not a wild critter roaming the area, I wanted to know more about them (beside the fact that they make good eating). Here's what I found out:

Guinea fowl (Numida meleagris) are said to be good for controlling the Lyme Disease-bearing deer tick. (For more info on guineas and Lyme disease see: Duffy, David Cameron, R. Downer, and C. Brinkley, 1992. The effectiveness of Helmeted Guineafowl in the control of the deer tick, the vector of Lyme Disease, The Wilson Bulletin, 164(2): 342-345.)

They range well (the two I saw came from a farm way up the hill) and eat lots of small things. In fact, if you keep bees, you don't really want to keep guineas. They'll stand by the hive and snap up the bees as they come out. Domestic Guinea Fowl are found in many varieties, including Pearl (the wild type), White , Buff Dundotte, Royal Purple, Porcelain, Slate, Chocolate, Violet or Mulberry, Lavender, and Coral Blue, but there are several other species of guinea fowl in the family Numididae, including the Vulturine Guinea
(Acryllium vulturinum)
Photo courtesy of Linda Enger from and the Crested Guineas (Guttera spp.) .

Young guineas are called "keets." Being native to dry areas of Africa, they are very susceptible to dampness during their first two weeks, and can die from following the mother through dewy grass. After two weeks of age, they are probably the hardiest of all domestic land fowl.

Photo by Debra Pearlman
This fellow was keeping an eye on his lady friend.

The easiest way to sex them is by voice. Both males and females make a single syllable, machine-gunlike alarm call, but only the females have a two syllable call. It sounds like they're saying "buck-wheat."

I found this information at FeatherSite What did we do before Google?


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