Bird Families

Black-headed Guinea Fowl / Guttera pucherani


Guinea fowls belong to the bird family of the same name in the order Chicken-like. The family of guinea fowl is not numerous and has only 7 species.

Guinea fowl (Numida meleagris).

The appearance of these birds is typical for chickens: the body is of medium size, the neck is relatively long, bare, the legs are of medium length. The body of the guinea fowl, when viewed in profile, resembles an oblique rhombus. Like most chickens, guinea fowls have various “decorations” on their heads made of skin outgrowths and a special shape of feathers.

Head of a forelock guinea fowl.

The plumage is variegated, but guinea fowls do not have a luxurious tail, like pheasants or peacocks. The most famous are 3 types.
Guinea fowl (Numida meleagris) - the body of this bird is covered with feathers with small pearl eyes, merging they form a "perforated" pattern. The neck and head of the common guinea fowl are blue, the forehead and crown are red. On the forehead and on the sides of the beak, leathery outgrowths are visible, and the head is crowned with a large hook-shaped "horn". Perhaps for this crown, the bird was nicknamed the guinea fowl. This guinea fowl is widespread everywhere and is not a rarity.

A flock of common guinea fowls.

Vulture guinea fowl (Acryllium vulturinum) - got its name for its characteristic appearance.

The head of the vulture guinea fowl is naked and without outgrowths, but the neck is framed by a collar of short feathers.

The lower part of the neck and chest of the vulture guinea fowl is covered with bright blue feathers with longitudinal black and white stripes.

Feathers of a vulture guinea fowl.

This is the most elegant of all guinea fowls, and it is also quite rare. In zoos, these guinea fowls rarely bring offspring, which is unexpected for such an unpretentious bird.

Vulture guinea fowl (Acryllium vulturinum).

Chubaty guinea fowl (Guttera pucherani) - outwardly similar to an ordinary guinea fowl, only instead of a "horn" its head is decorated with a low crest of black curly feathers.

Chummy guinea fowl (Guttera pucherani).

All types of guinea fowls are flocking birds that prefer to live in groups of 10-30 individuals. Most of the time they roam the savannah in search of food. Guinea fowls prefer to move at a walk, but in case of danger they can run briskly.

Common guinea fowls walk around the wasteland in search of food.

The flight of guinea fowls is low and difficult, they fly only over short distances, mainly to a watering hole.

A flock of common guinea fowls came to the watering hole. They are closely watched by the Kudu antelope.

Guinea fowls feed on various insects, grasses and all kinds of seeds.
The mating season for guinea fowls falls on the rainy season. The female lays 5-12 yellowish-white eggs in the nest.

The nest of the guinea fowl is hidden in a secluded place.

After 25 days, chicks appear. They follow their mother everywhere. Males also take part in the protection of offspring, which is unusual for chicken birds. In most of them, the male does not care about the offspring.

The vulture guinea fowl protects the young.

Guinea fowls have many natural enemies: they are hunted by birds of prey; on the land of guinea fowls, servals (a species of African cats) and other predatory animals can lie in wait. Since ancient times, guinea fowls have been the object of human hunting. Their meat is less fatty than that of chicken; in many countries, guinea fowls are equated with game.

Of all the species of guinea fowl, only the ordinary one was domesticated. The first attempts to keep guinea fowls in captivity were made by the ancient Romans and Greeks. Then the guinea fowl was a frequent inhabitant of the domestic zoos of the Roman patricians. With the decline of the Roman Empire, it was forgotten. This bird was brought to Europe again by the Portuguese in the era of the great geographical discoveries. Since then, it has spread to poultry houses. Guinea fowl is a more unpretentious bird compared to chicken: it needs less grain feed, it eats more greenery and insects (including garden pests), and is less sick. But guinea fowls, as natives of Africa, tolerate dampness and cold worse. Guinea fowls never became poultry on an industrial scale, but they are always loved by private poultry farmers.

Listen to the various sounds made by the guinea fowl.

Read about the animals mentioned in this article: pheasants, peacocks.