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Helmeted Guinea Fowl

Numida meleagris

Family:

Numididae, Guinea fowl family

Conservation Status:

Least concern, IUCN

Distribution:

Western, northeastern and southern Africa

Habitat:

Open country, including forest edges, savanna woodlands, thorn-scrublands and cultivated areas

Factoid:

Researchers have deduced that guinea fowl rank as one of the best destroyers of many pest insects and spend a great deal of their time looking for various insects – among them, beetles and grasshoppers. They, however, do very little damage to either flowers or vegetables unlike chickens that will destroy any garden they are allowed to enter

This odd-looking bird has a plump body, small head, short legs and long toes. The skin on its mostly featherless face and neck is bright blue, with red wattles hanging from its throat and cheeks. On top of its head sits a bony projection known as a casque, which gives the bird its characteristic “helmeted” appearance. The rest of its body is covered with blackish-grey feathers dotted with white spots.

Guinea fowl are equipped with strong claws and scratch in soil for food much like domestic chickens. They have well-developed spurs and use these to great effect when fighting. These birds are terrestrial, and prone to run rather than fly when alarmed. They are, however, like most short, and broad-winged birds, very agile and powerful flyers, capable of hovering and even flying backwards when necessary.

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