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

The guineafowl (/ˈɡɪnifaʊl/; 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

Main article: 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.

References

  • 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


Hemipus picatus This article is part of Project Bird Taxonomy, a All Birds project that aims to write comprehensive articles on every order, family and other taxonomic rank related to birds.
Sterna diversity This article is part of Project Bird Families, a All Birds project that aims to write comprehensive articles on each bird family, including made-up families.
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