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Guineafowl: Numididae - Behavior And Reproduction

Animal Life ResourceBirdsGuineafowl: Numididae - Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, Helmeted Guineafowl (numida Meleagris): Species Account - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, GUINEAFOWL AND PEOPLE, CONSERVATION STATUS


Guineafowl live in groups of up to twenty individuals, with the exception of the vulturine guineafowl, which live in flocks of twenty to thirty). These birds roost (rest) in trees during the night and call to one another. Calls vary according to species and are used not only to locate flock members but to warn of intruders. The crested guineafowl has been known to socialize with vervet monkeys. While the monkeys eat from the treetops, the guineafowl feed below on fruit and feces that fall from the trees. Monkeys help protect the birds by warning of danger from above while the birds warn monkeys of danger on the ground. Feeding usually occurs in the early dawn hours.


Guineas were first introduced to the United States from Africa during pre-Civil War days and have since been raised on small farms, usually alongside chickens and other domestic fowl. They're popular birds on farms because of the way they call loudly in alarm whenever intruders approach, be they four-legged or two-legged. More recently, they have become valued farm birds because they eat ticks that carry Lyme Disease.

According to Nancy Smith's article in Mother Earth News, guineas not only eat the insects, but will actually patrol the borders of fields and lawns in search of the pesky bugs.

Owners of guineafowl praise the birds for their low-maintenance lifestyle and hardiness against disease, but the fowl do have their downside. Neighbors don't usually care for the alarmingly loud calls of the guineafowl. They're also slow breeders when compared to other fowl, such as chickens. Still, most people who own them say they would never be without them again.

During breeding, pairs form monogamous (muh-NAH-guh-mus; one male to one female mate) bonds and breed throughout the year. Clutch sizes vary from as few as seven to as many as twenty-three eggs of various colors. Chicks are born with a soft down covering and can usually flutter-fly by the age of two to three weeks.

Guineafowl hide from their predators in trees and thickets. They also will choose to run rather than fly when in danger. Their primary enemies are hawks, owls, and other meat-eating animals. Average life span is unknown.

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