guinea fowl


guinea fowl
any of several African, gallinaceous birds of the subfamily Numidinae, esp. a common species, Numida meleagris, that has a bony casque on the head and dark gray plumage spotted with white and that is now domesticated and raised for its flesh and eggs.
Also, guineafowl.
[1645-55]

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Any of a family (Numididae) of African birds, sometimes placed in the family Phasianidae.

One species (Numida meleagris) is widely domesticated for its flesh and, because it gabbles loudly at the least alarm, as a "watchdog" on farms. Wild forms of this species are known as helmet guinea fowl because of their large bony crest. Many varieties are widespread in the savannas and scrublands of Africa, and the guinea fowl has been introduced into the West Indies and elsewhere. About 20 in. (50 cm) long, in its typical form it has a bare face, brown eyes, red and blue wattles at the bill, white-spotted black plumage, and a hunched posture. It lives in flocks and feeds on seed tubers and some insects.

Vulturine guinea fowl (Acryllium vulturinum)

S.C. Bisserot
Bruce Coleman Inc.

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bird
 any of a family, Numididae (order Galliformes), of African birds that are alternatively placed by some authorities in the pheasant family, Phasianidae. The family consists of 7–10 species, one of which, Numida meleagris, is widely domesticated for its flesh and as a “watchdog” on farms (it gabbles loudly at the least alarm). The largest and most-colourful species is the vulturine guinea fowl (Acryllium vulturinum), of eastern Africa, a long-necked bird with a hackle of long lance-shaped feathers striped black, white, and blue; red eyes; and a vulturelike bare blue head.

      Wild forms of N. meleagris are known as helmet guinea fowl from their large bony crest; the sexes look alike. The helmet guinea fowl has many local varieties widespread in the savannas and scrublands of Africa and has been introduced into the West Indies and elsewhere. About 50 cm (20 inches) long, the typical form has a bare face, brown eyes, red and blue wattles at the bill, black white-spotted plumage, and hunched posture. It lives in flocks and walks about on the ground, feeding on seeds, tubers, and some insects. When alarmed the birds run, but when pressed they fly on short, rounded wings for a short distance. At night they sleep in trees. Helmet guinea fowl are noisy birds giving harsh, repetitive calls. The nest is a hollow in the ground and is scantily lined with vegetation. It contains about 12 finely spotted tan-coloured eggs, which require about 30 days' incubation. The downy young are active immediately after hatching and accompany the parents.

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