Martok
August 1, 2011
Helmeted Guinea Fowl
Photo by Sue Weaver
Click is a lavender Helmeted Guinea Fowl.

Nine years ago, when Mom and Dad bought this farm, some new friends gave them a box of guinea keets. Mom and Dad raised them in a brooder in the house. When they got old enough to come outdoors, Dad made them a coop and a covered guinea-fowl yard. Finally, they were big enough to start running around the yard by themselves. How exciting! Off they went in a big, happy group, racing toward the pasture behind the house. That night, only three came back. Dad put them back in the guinea-fowl pen, where they stayed until they were fully grown. The next time they came out, they were smarter and stayed a lot closer to the house. 

You can tell male and female guinea fowl apart because females make a sound that males don’t. Some people say it sounds like they’re saying, “Buck-wheat! Buck-wheat!” and others that it’s “Put-rock! Put-rock!” Whatever it is, none of our guinea fowl made that sound. All three survivors were males. Then, a few years ago, one flew into the side of the barn and broke his neck. Now, there are only two bachelor guinea fowl, Click and Clack.

Click and Clack scream like banshees, especially if anything strange comes near our yard be it visitors, a skunk, or a vulture circling overhead. Nothing sneaks past these birds! They’re very good guards.

Click and Clack keep our yard free of creepy things, like ticks. We’re grateful because tick bites make humans and animals sick. 

Click and Clack are called Helmeted Guinea Fowl. Their ancestors came from Africa long ago. Humans domesticated them because they’re good to eat because they taste like wild-game birds, and their eggs are yummy, too. There are still wild Helmeted Guinea Fowl in Africa, where flocks of several hundred birds are common; imagine the noise they make! Those guinea fowl are gray with white polka-dotted feathers like our friend Clack. It’s the most common guinea-fowl color, and it’s called pearl. Click is lavender with white polka dots. Guinea fowl come in lots of other colors, too, like white, royal purple, coral blue, buff, slate, chocolate and porcelain; some have spots, some don’t. 

Guinea fowl can fly really well—up to 400 or 500 feet at a time—and sometimes, they roost high up in trees. But Click and Clack prefer to roost on the stall divider in the sheep shed at night. They poop in the sheep’s water. That makes Mom mad. Mom moves the tub, and Click and Clack move over, too. Uzzi and I think they’re yanking Mom’s chain.

While guinea fowl can fly, they prefer to run instead. Ours carom around the yard for no apparent reason: Click chases Clack and then Clack chases Click. If there’s method to their madness, we don’t know what it is. Sometimes our lambs chase the guinea fowl, too. The guinea fowl race just fast enough to stay out of the lambs’ reach. You can tell they enjoy the game. 

Mom and Dad and the rest of us animals think Click and Clack are incredibly cool birds. Maybe you should get some guinea fowl, too? 

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