- For the guineafowl butterflies, see Hamanumida.
Guineafowl Helmeted Guineafowl (Numida meleagris) Scientific classification Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Chordata Class: Aves Order: Galliformes Family: Numididae
de Sélys Longchamps, 1842
The guineafowl ( //; sometimes called guineahen) are a family of birds in the Galliformes order, although some authorities (for example the American Ornithologists' Union) include the guineafowl as a subfamily, Numidinae, of the family Phasianidae. The guineafowl are native to Africa, but the Helmeted Guineafowl has been domesticated, and both feral and wild-type birds have been introduced elsewhere.
Description and ecology
This family of insect and seed-eating, ground-nesting birds resemble partridges, but with featherless heads, though both members of the genus Guttera have a distinctive black crest, and the Vulturine Guineafowl has a downy brown patch on the nape. Most species of guineafowl have a dark grey or blackish plumage with dense white spots, but both members of the genus Agelastes lack the spots (as do some domestic variants of the Helmeted Guineafowl). While several species are relatively well known, the Plumed Guineafowl and the two members of the genus Agelastes remain relatively poorly known.
The species for which the information is known are normally monogamous, mating for life. However, occasional bigamy has been recorded for the Helmeted Guineafowl . All guineafowl are social, and typically occur in small groups.
These large birds measure from 40-71 cm in length, and weigh 700-1600 g.
The Helmeted and Vulturine Guineafowl generally occur in open or semiopen habitats such as savanna or semideserts, while the remaining species of guineafowl mainly occur in forests.
Head of a Vulturine Guineafowl
List of species in taxonomic order
This is a list of guineafowl species, presented in taxonomic order.
- Genus Agelastes
- Genus Numida
- Helmeted Guineafowl, Numida meleagris
- Genus Guttera
- Genus Acryillium
- Vulturine Guineafowl, Acryllium vulturinum
Guineafowl have a long history of domestication, mainly involving the Helmeted Guineafowl; in the UK they were usually known as "gleanies". The young (called "keets") are very small at birth. The keets are kept in a brooder box inside the house until about six weeks of age, before being moved into a proper coop or enclosure. They eat lice, worms, ants, spiders, weedseeds, and ticks while on range, or they can also eat chicken layer crumbles (one kind of commercial bird feed) while housed in a coop. The cooked flesh of guineafowl resembles chicken in texture, with a flavour somewhere between chicken and turkey.
- ^ (Madge and McGowan, p345-352)
- ^ Guinea Fowl Peck Away At Lyme Disease Ticks, New York Times, July 27, 1999, http://www.nytimes.com/1999/07/27/health/guinea-fowl-peck-away-at-lyme-disease-ticks.html
- Madge and McGowan, Pheasants, Partridges and Grouse. ISBN 0-7136-3966-0
- Martínez, I. (1994). "Family Numididae (Guineafowl)". Pp.554-570 in; del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. & Sargatal, J. eds. Handbook of the Birds of the World, Vol. 2. New World Vultures to Guineafowl. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. ISBN 8487334156
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