Helmeted Guineafowl

Numida meleagris

These birds are not the best at keeping secrets because will almost certainly hear them before you see them!

Species Information

Click the tabs below to read about this animal.

Though they are domesticated globally, guineafowl originated in Africa. Guineafowl are found in a range of habitats; they generally prefer open and dry climates with some cover, such as scrublands, forests, and grasslands.

Males are distinguishable from females as the helmet and wattles are noticeably larger. Females also make a two-note cry whilst the male only has a one-note cry. Their name comes from the dinosaur horn-like casque on their head!

The diet of guineafowl consists of seeds, fruits, and forage, as well as invertebrates, herptiles, and small mammals.

10-20 years.

Guineafowl are social birds, usually found in large flocks where the social dynamics are determined by a hierarchy amongst the males. They spend days on the ground, where they forage, preen, and take dust bath amongst the dry substrate they inhabit upon. Yet at night, flocks return to the safety of roosting sights within trees, with as many as 2000 of them in a single large tree! Their loud and piercing calls, as well as their aggressive antics towards potential threats, helps them to defend themselves and their young from predators. If this pecking, flapping, and scratching does not deter a predator, they are able to quickly run or fly away.

During the breeding season – after the rainy season – these birds will disperse from their flocks into monogamous pairs. They lay 25–30 eggs in a nest, and even sometimes ‘egg dump’, meaning they lay their eggs in other guineafowl nests for them to incubate! Their eggs are small but extremely thick-shelled, with the ‘keets’ hatching after about 28 days.

Least Concern

Humans have used guineafowl domestically because they are great ‘guard’ animals. Their distinct and loud alarm calls can be heard easily if there is a disturbance which may be a potential threat!