Helmeted Guineafowl

Helmeted Guineafowl Numida meleagris

Type of Animal:

Savanna, semi-desert, farmland, agricultural areas, farms, shrubland, grassland, scrubland, dry thornbush, savanna woodland, parks, park-like settings, cultivated fields, mixed habitat of savanna & cultivated fields, brush, forests, thornveld, backyards

Sub-Saharan Africa w/ disjunct population in C Niger. Critically endangered (possibly extinct in wild) Saby’s subspecies found in NW Morocco. Introduced to W Cape of South Africa, Madagascar, Mauritius, Sao Tome & Principe, Comoros, W Indies, New Zealand, W & S Europe, UK, areas of Near & Middle East, US, India, Brazil, & Australia.

Wild form gray-black spangled w/ white spots, unfeathered head, dull yellow/reddish bony knob, bare skin w/ red/blue/black hues, short tail, short rounded wings, males have more prominent wattles/larger helmets, domestics come in different colors/color combinations w/ same body plan as wild form

Seeds, fruits, greens, snails, spiders, worms, insects, frogs, lizards, snakes, small mammals, ticks, corms/tubers of agricultural weeds, agricultural crop spillage, corms of Cyperus sedges, maize, wheat, insect larvae, maggots, berries, eggs, pigeon feed, greens, vegetation, leaves, vegetables, bulbs, seedlings, flower heads

Status in Wild:
Stable. Domesticated in many areas worldwide.

Possible reintroductions into Morocco. Farmed for meat, feathers, & eggs.

Flocks typically number around 25 birds

Additional Info:

Male: Cock
Female: Hen
Young: Keet
Group: Flock

Male: 2.737-2.761 lbs
Female: 2.7-2.72 lbs
Young: 10.5 oz

1 month 

Life Span:
10-15 years

Male: 1.9 ft
Female: 1.7 ft

Body Length:
Male: 1.58-1.7 ft
Female: 1.42-1.58 ft

Tail Length:
Male: 6.11-6.25 in
Female: 5.547-5.713 in

Main predators are hawks, owls, carnivorous/omnivorous mammals, snakes, crocodilians, eagles, corvids, & falcons.
While capable of flying, they prefer walking/running.
Often called Guinea Hens.
Females sometimes lay eggs in nests of other females, each clutch 6-20 eggs.
Meat white like chicken but has more pheasant-like taste.
It can be very hard to find nests/eggs since moms hide them. While protective of eggs, they’re not super protective of keets.

Fun Fact(s):
Occasionally interbreed w/ chickens creating guins or guin-hens.
Ancient Greeks were 1st to domesticate these birds.
Often kept for meat/eggs/feathers as well as guard animals due to loud alarm call. Also highly beneficial since they eat unwanted animals such as ticks (they can help prevent spread of Lyme Disease), various insects, spiders, small snakes, & rodents.
These birds mentioned in Greek mythology-daughters of Calydon King Oeneus were transformed into guineafowl upon death of his son Meleagros (might be where meleagris derives from).

Helmeted Guineafowl, stock photo

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