Be grateful for nature. Pay the thunder no mind – listen to the Guinea fowl. And don’t hate anybody.
W&N watercolour on DalerRowney 220gsm heavy-duty sketching paper.
The Helmeted Guinea Fowl is an African family of insect and seed-eating, ground-nesting birds resembling partridges, but with featherless heads and spangled grey plumage. They are the ultimate low-cost, chemical-free pest control and if your garden is already established and can withstand the scratching, you’ll have a healthy and pest-free garden.
And be rewarded with some wonderful antics from these lovely birds. It is interesting to note that they are monogamous, mating for life. The hens have a habit of hiding their nests, and sharing it with other hens until large numbers of eggs have accumulated. Females lay 25-30 tough-skinned, smallish, creamy eggs in a deep, tapering nest and undergo an incubation period of 26-28 days. The chicks are called “keets” and are highly susceptible to damp. In fact, they can die from following the mother through dewy grass.
After their first two to six weeks of growth, they can be some of the hardiest domestic land fowl.
They are highly social birds, and hate to be alone. When you see a lone guinea fowl, it usually means trouble, like that the family has been scattered by a predator. Guineas spend most of their days foraging. They work as a team, marching chest to chest and devouring anything they startle as they move through the grass.
When they discover a special treat — a rodent, for example, or a small snake — they close ranks, circle their prey, and move in for the feast. All the while, they keep up a steady stream of whistles, chirps, and clicks, a sort of running commentary on the day’s hunt.