For the guineafowl butterflies, see Hamanumida.
Helmeted Guineafowl (Numida meleagris)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Galliformes
Family: Numididae
de Sélys Longchamps, 1842

The guineafowl (play /ˈɡɪnifl/; 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 [1]. 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.

The Helmeted Guineafowl has been domesticated and introduced outside its natural range, for example in southern France (where they are known as pintade), the West Indies, and the United States.

Guinea fowl are sometimes used to control ticks.[2]

List of species in taxonomic order

This is a list of guineafowl species, presented in taxonomic order.

Domesticated guineafowl

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, 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

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • guineafowl — ► NOUN (pl. same) ▪ a large African game bird with slate coloured, white spotted plumage …   English terms dictionary

  • guineafowl — noun (plural same) a large African game bird with slate coloured, white spotted plumage. [Numida meleagris (helmeted guineafowl) and other species.] …   English new terms dictionary

  • guineafowl — /ˈgɪnifaʊl/ (say gineefowl) noun any member of an African gallinaceous bird family, the Numididae, which has (usually) dark grey plumage with small white spots; one species, the helmeted guineafowl, Numida meleagris, is now domesticated… …   Australian-English dictionary

  • guineafowl — tikrosios patarškos statusas T sritis zoologija | vardynas atitikmenys: lot. Numida angl. guineafowl vok. Perlhuhn, n rus. цесарка, f pranc. pintade, f ryšiai: platesnis terminas – patarškiniai siauresnis terminas – naminė patarška …   Paukščių pavadinimų žodynas

  • guineafowl — patarškiniai statusas T sritis zoologija | vardynas atitikmenys: lot. Numididae angl. guineafowl vok. Perlhühner rus. цесарковые pranc. numididés ryšiai: platesnis terminas – fazaniniai paukščiai siauresnis terminas – grifinės patarškos… …   Paukščių pavadinimų žodynas

  • guineafowl — guinea fowl n. Any of several pheasantlike birds of the family Numididae native to Africa, especially a widely domesticated species (Numida meleagris) having blackish plumage marked with many small white spots. Also called guinea hen.   [After… …   Universalium

  • guineafowl — n. large game bird found in Africa (same family as turkeys, pheasants and other game birds) …   English contemporary dictionary

  • guineafowl — …   Useful english dictionary

  • Helmeted Guineafowl — At Serengeti National Park, Tanzania Conservation status …   Wikipedia

  • Crested Guineafowl — Kenya Crested Guineafowl, Guttera p. pucherani Conservation status …   Wikipedia

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