Helmeted guinea fowl are distributed across most of Sub-Sahara Africa. They range as far west as Senegal and eastward to Eritrea at the north edge of their range, and southward to South Africa as the furthest southern range. (Mayntz, 2009)
Helmeted guinea fowl are found in exposed areas that have some trees for them to roost upon at night. These include grasslands, savannas, cultivated areas and scrub lands. These birds occur frequently around areas with water, primarily freshwater rivers or watering holes. These birds dislike dense forests, deserts and marshes. (Ayeni, 1983a; IUCN, 2016; Mayntz, 2009; Ratcliffe and Crowe, 2001)
Helmeted guinea fowl are ground birds that have a body shaped similar to a chicken and a grouse. They have a boney "helmet", known as a casque. The casque lies on top of the crown of the birds and both males and females have them. Male casques are usually larger than the casques of females. The bill is curved with red, fleshy skin further back on the lore. They have eyes that appear black but are dark brown. Their wattles are sky blue to dark blue with red at the tips. Females have smaller wattles compared to males. The sides of their heads at the ear-covert down to the middle of the neck are bare and are a sky blue to dark blue color. The lower section of the neck has down-like feathers that are brownish-grey in color. The body, wings and thighs are covered in black to dark grey feathers with uniformed speckles of white. Each feather can have up to a dozen or more speckles on them. The legs and feet are dark grey. Juveniles are similar to the adults with the exceptions of less developed wattles and casques. Their faces are paler than the adults, the speckles are less visible and their overall coloration is grayish brown. The chicks, known as keets, have longitudinal black stripes on their heads that are brown and are brownish grey in their body feathers. There are nine subspecies of helmeted guinea fowl in Africa. Differences vary from head colorations, casques, speckle arrangement, neck feathers and other little details that are minute. (Frost, 2013; Mayntz, 2009; Myers, et al., 2018)
Helmeted Guinea Fowl mate seasonally after winter, changing from mixed flocks to paired birds. Males are known to be polygynous with females but will end up monogamous during the incubation period of the eggs. Males will chase and fight other male Helmeted Guinea Fowl to deter them from approaching their partner. Males and females will stay together for five weeks and are inseparable. They communicate with each other continuously, roost together at night and preen each other during this time. (A-Z-Animals.com, 2017; Elbin, et al., 1986; Frost, 2013; Mayntz, 2009)
Helmeted guinea fowl mate in the spring, changing from mixed flocks to paired birds. Males are known to be polygynous with females but will end up monogamous during the incubation period of the eggs. Males will chase and fight other males to deter them from approaching their partner. Males and females will stay together for five weeks and are inseparable. They communicate with each other continuously, roost together at night and preen each other during this time.
Helmeted guinea fowl females dig scrapes in dense vegetation areas with twigs and leaves within the nest. The female will lay around six to fifteen eggs within the depression and incubate them for up to thirty days. The male protects the female from other Helmeted guinea fowl and predators that might find the nest and feed the female. The eggs are a cream-brown coloration, shaped similar the pears, with a length of 53 mm and width of 40 mm. After thirty days, the eggs hatch and “keets”, term for chicks, are born. The keets forage with the parents once hatched as both parents defend them from dangers. Keets become fledged in four weeks. The keets stay with the parent group for at least fifty to seventy five days before becoming independent. Keets become sexually mature after a year. (A-Z-Animals.com, 2017; Elbin, et al., 1986; Frost, 2013; Mayntz, 2009)
Female Helmeted guinea fowl brood the keets during the night while male roosts. Males will brood the keets during the day as the female forages during the first two weeks since hatching. (Elbin, et al., 1986)
Helmeted guinea fowl live up to ten to twenty years in the wild. There is no literature on life expectancy on domestic birds. (A-Z-Animals.com, 2017)
Helmeted guinea fowl flocks roost in trees for protection at night. During the day, they are always on the ground foraging for food in flocks of varying size. Some flocks can consist of a single male and female to large flocks with up to 100 birds. Flocks have territories that they wander around and do get into fights with other flocks but there is not enough literature on determining sizes of the territories. During winter, flocks are largest and during the mating season, mated pairs disperse to incubate their eggs. As they forage on the ground, they consistently vocalize and search for danger, using their eye site to detect movement and hearing to pinpoint danger. When faced with danger, they use their alarm calls to warn other birds and surrounding fauna. They typically run from danger but can fly as a last resort in a steep upward angle. Helmeted Guinea Fowl have a social hierarchy when in larger flocks as the birds continuously chase and fight each other to determine status. Juveniles show submissive behavior to older birds if they since danger. Helmeted guinea fowl use dust baths to clean their plumage daily. (A-Z-Animals.com, 2017; Elbin, et al., 1986; Evans, 2017; Frost, 2013; Mayntz, 2009; Niekerk, 1985; Ratcliffe and Crowe, 2001)
Flocks have territories that they wonder around and do get into fights with other flocks but there is not enough literature on determining sizes of the territories. (Ratcliffe and Crowe, 2001)
Helmeted guinea fowl have harsh, dry calls that can carry vast distances. Males make a single "chek" sound, while females make two notes that are repetitive going "buck-wheat". Their calls increase in volume and tempo when they are excited, aggravated or if they since danger. The alarm call is a very loud, harsh, repeating rattling "kek-kek-kek-kek-krrrrrrrrr". (Frost, 2013; Mayntz, 2009)
Helmeted guinea fowl are omnivorous. In the wild, their plant diet include grass seeds, grain, seedlings, leaves, bulbs, roots, fruit and flower heads. Sources of protein in their diet consist of snails, beetles, insect larvae, ticks, various invertebrates, frogs, small lizards and small mice. They also ingest small pebbles for their gizzards. Their methods to obtain their food sources include digging and running with their legs, plucking, flicking and jabbing with their beak and jumping to reach out to food.
In domestic stock, they are fed primarily commercial chicken diets, cereal grains, garden and kitchen wastes, maize, sorghum and millet. Compared to chickens, helmeted guinea fowl require higher protein intake and this has been problematic due to debate on their requirements in a domestic setting. This has led to problems in their growth and egg production in many areas of the world. (Ayeni, 1983b; Frost, 2013; Mayntz, 2009; Moreki and Radikara, 2013)
Helmeted guinea fowl are preyed upon by a variety of animals along with their eggs. Known predators include leopards (Panthera pardus), servals (Leptailurus serval), wildcats (Felis sivestris), dogs (Canis lupus. familiaris), wolves (Canis lupus), large reptiles that include crocodiles (Crocodylinae) and snakes (Serpentes) and Martial Eagles (Polemaetus bellicosus).
Helmeted guinea fowl are gamebirds in Africa and are hunted for their meat and for sport. They are considered a smart bird and give hunters a challenge when hunting them. Domestic Helmeted guinea fowl are raised to be processed into poultry and as an egg laying fowl. (A-Z-Animals.com, 2017; Evans, 2017; Moreki and Radikara, 2013; Overholt, 2011; Smithsonian Channel, 2014; Smithsonian Channel, 2016)
Helmeted Guinea Fowl house many parasites including Heterakis gallinarum, Ascaridia galli, Capillaria caudinflata, Raillietinatetragona, Raillietina echinobothrida, Eimeria species, Leucocytozoan species, Plasmodium species, Aegyptianella pullorum, Argas persicus, and a genus of Lice, Damalinia. (Ayeni, et al., 1983)
Helmeted guinea fowl have been hunted for thousands of years in Africa and are hunted today as a popular game bird. These birds have been domesticated for their meat, eggs and feathers and are a growing in popularity in various countries for these resources and as an exotic farm animal. Many Zoos house these unique birds for education and aviaries house them for their exotic look. They are also a bird many tourist and Birders want to see on Safari in Africa. These birds are used as tick and insect control in agricultural fields and have been known to consume infected Deer ticks with Lyme disease. (A-Z-Animals.com, 2017; Duffy, et al., 1992; Evans, 2017; Frost, 2013; Mayntz, 2009; Moreki and Radikara, 2013)
Helmeted guinea fowl are known to damage crops, especially emerging seedlings. They are also a noisy bird and can cause headaches and migraines to people around them. They are a difficult bird to raise, since they are newer to a world market. Many farmers have lost money due to not understanding how to raise these birds properly. (Duffy, et al., 1992; Frost, 2013; Moreki and Radikara, 2013)
Helmeted Guinea Fowl are listed as least concerned according to the IUCN Red List. (IUCN, 2016)
Matthew Portner (author), Northern Michigan University, Alec Lindsay (editor), Northern Michigan University, Tanya Dewey (editor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.
living in sub-Saharan Africa (south of 30 degrees north) and Madagascar.
uses sound to communicate
living in landscapes dominated by human agriculture.
having coloration that serves a protective function for the animal, usually used to refer to animals with colors that warn predators of their toxicity. For example: animals with bright red or yellow coloration are often toxic or distasteful.
Referring to an animal that lives in trees; tree-climbing.
having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.
an animal that mainly eats meat
uses smells or other chemicals to communicate
helpers provide assistance in raising young that are not their own
active at dawn and dusk
humans benefit economically by promoting tourism that focuses on the appreciation of natural areas or animals. Ecotourism implies that there are existing programs that profit from the appreciation of natural areas or animals.
animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.
parental care is carried out by females
an animal that mainly eats leaves.
A substance that provides both nutrients and energy to a living thing.
an animal that mainly eats fruit
an animal that mainly eats seeds
An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.
An animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.
offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).
parental care is carried out by males
eats mollusks, members of Phylum Mollusca
Having one mate at a time.
having the capacity to move from one place to another.
the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.
an animal that mainly eats all kinds of things, including plants and animals
reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.
the business of buying and selling animals for people to keep in their homes as pets.
having more than one female as a mate at one time
scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.
breeding is confined to a particular season
reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female
associates with others of its species; forms social groups.
living in residential areas on the outskirts of large cities or towns.
uses touch to communicate
Living on the ground.
A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.
A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.
A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.
uses sight to communicate
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