My Original Seven
Guinea Fowl individual natures are as different and diverse as we are. I’d like to explain how I have come to know each of my guinea fowls on an individual level.
If you are not sure what a Guinea fowl is, check out Wikipedia.
I originally hatched seven little keets under a broody chicken. Five were male with only two females, which was not a good ratio.
Once pre-mating season arrived I realised I needed to fix the ratio. I was asked if I would sell one of my guineas and decided on one I had not yet named. He was a particularly beautifully boy with great markings. One may wonder why I would choose him to be the one to go. I can tell you, it wasn’t an easy decision, but what decided it in the end was that some had already bonded… Gray and Grace, and Pied and Penny.
That left me with Silver, Streak and the unnamed bird.
As Silver was my only silver coloured bird, I didn’t want him to be the one to go. And as for Streak… he had endeared himself to me in such a way that I couldn’t bear to let him go. I decided on the unnamed bird.
I eventually bought in five more birds, but I’ll explain as I go…
Guinea Fowl individual natures are as different and diverse as we are
Gray (or Graham)
This one was my only full pearl grey. Well, I have to adjust that slightly as he does have white wing feathers, which I guess classifies him as a pied, but he’s close enough to pearl grey for me. I’ve observed that those that are fully pearl grey have no white on them at all.
He’s a dominant bird within the flock and right up until this latest breeding season has always run Silver off. He does not like him for some reason. I’m not sure if it’s Silver’s colour or not, but it’s what I blame mostly.
During this breeding season, Gray for the first time, was challenged regarding his peahen, or female, and lost the battle. Silver was his challenger and came out on top… for awhile. Then a strange thing, after all this fighting between them, Silver suddenly made a change of direction and began to challenge streak for Sally.
Gray proves true to his girl!
Gray did not take on another female. He moped around, very upset and totally defeated. In fact, he went missing for a couple of days, even though he’d turn up in the evenings. The many trees around our property gave him plenty of cover, as even I couldn’t find him. It was so strange to see Gray like this.
After a few days he started to wander around our property with Pied and Penny, and it looked like they may form a threesome.
Meanwhile, Grace cried her heart out over Gray, and Silver, and even Stirling whom she became quite attached too.
I wanted Gray to go back to Grace, but he didn’t for a week or more. Then finally, I saw them back together again and things settled down between as normal.
Don’t ever try to tell me that a guinea fowl will only mate for life, I’ve seen far too much to the contrary. Mind you, I think Gray would be one that would happily settle down with Grace forevermore.
Penny and Grace seemed to me to be identical as I could never tell the difference between them. I began to realise who was who according to which male they hung around with. Just as soon as they were together though, I was lost.
As time went on, a couple of changes happened to Penny, so now I can tell the difference without problem, but Grace has pretty much stayed as she always has been.
I owned two male birds who were very similar and hard to tell apart. Streak differed in that he sported a white streak of wing feathers up his right side. Pied is also a dominant bird, but formed a strong mateship with Gray. They must have agreed to be besties as I’ve not seen those two birds fighting ever.
One time, Pied lost his Penny to Silver. He was totally devastated and defeated at the time. It was interesting to see that rather than try to get another female, he began to wander with Gray and Grace, and as a result they became of firm threesome.
It was funny to watch. Grace loves to get behind the garden netting at times. Not interested in eating the plants, just the crushed shells in the soil. One day she couldn’t find the opening to get out, so she stood there crying. The two boys ran as fast as they could to her rescue! As it turned out, I was there so able to set her free.
When she would lay an egg, both boys would stand guard. So cute.
I called Grace and Penny twins as I was unable to tell them apart. One day one of Penny’s white wing feathers fell out on her right side. Surely it will grow back white… but it’s maintaining the pearl grey colouring.
The second difference is that she’s got a cyst under her right eye. It’s an ugly thing really and I wish I could simply cut it off. I don’t know if a vet would do it as I’ve heard they don’t like to work with domestic birds.
He managed to become my favourite as one day he simply came up to me, jumped up on my knee and and began to eat out of my hand. How could you not fall in love with that? No other guinea fowl would dare do such a thing!
As the other males chased him a fair bit, especially when there was food around, he’d go off by himself and wait until I’d come over to hand feed him. He would expected it!
Each night when I’d put them away, all the guineas would eat out of their dish, or sometimes I’d spread the seed on the floor. But not Streak… he would want to at least begin to feed by eating out of my hand. There was a time when Lavender followed suit when she was locked up with him… he did it, so she gradually mustered up the courage to come and eat too.
I named him Streak as he was the only male bird I had that had a white wing feather, but only on one side. On the other side of him he looked almost identical to Pied.
I lost Streak when he died of unknown causes. It broke my heart.
I have written a whole post of Silver. When people say that guinea fowls mate for life they are not allowing for characters like Silver! He a real Casanova… he likes change and makes sure he gets the girl he sets his eye on.
The most timid and shy of all the birds as a young one… but shock of all shocks when the first pre-mating season arrived!
Read his story here
It took sometime for me to name all the birds as I’d look for something that was special to that bird. At the time of sale I had not named him but I feel certain his new owners would have given him an appropriate name. They had three females waiting for his attention. I didn’t feel at all bad about it because I knew he was going to a good thing and a good home.
Here he is in the cage waiting for delivery. I would never cage another fowl like that. Since then we’ve always boxed them or put them in a little cat carrier, as this prevents them from hurting themselves. The cage allowed him to spread his wings and caused a little harm.
Once thing I’d like to mention here is this. I knew he was a cock bird, a male… but when we delivered him to the place where the other woman was coming to pick him up, he was left in a small enclosure. As we walked away I heard him cry loudly with the female cry! I stopped, swung around, and said “Oh no, I’ve brought you a female! How could that be?”
But I knew he was a male, and as it turned out, definitely so. It’s proof that a male can, and will, use the female call if he feels his situation warrants it. He obviously was feeling very frightened and didn’t like the fact that I was leaving him there in that enclosure. In his distress, he used the female call. I read online that a male will not use the female call, but I know it’s incorrect. They say it would be beneath the male to use the female call… but I know different.
The female can use the male call though, whenever she wants to.
Rose was a beautiful coloured bird with a lovely tint of rose around her neck. She was bought at the same time as Lavender. I penned Rose with Streak, and in another pen I put Silver with Lavender.
When the two weeks were over, I let Streak & Rose out of the pen first. Within minutes, the other birds had her frightened off and she disappeared over the fence and far away into the distance!
Unfortunately, Rosy died and once again I was a female down.
Rose and Lavender were both bought from the same property, at the same time. She was a pretty bird, a smaller version of Silver, but the female shape. I bought her for Silver and penned them up Intogether to bond for two weeks.
As I had let Rose out and she’d flown away, I was very hesitant to allow Lavender out. Eventually though I did, and she flew away too!
Anyway, did Silver and Lavender bond? Previously, Silver had pinched Penny from Pied, but I wanted him to bond to Lavender. Would it happen, I wondered?
In his heart he burned for her!
On letting them out, Silver stuck with Lavender for a couple of days before he began looking sideways at Penny again. He couldn’t help himself, he wanted her! He had to have her!
Oh dear! So now Lavender was all alone and was crying about it too! The lovely thing is that my beautiful Streak took care of the situation. He already had his girl, Sally, but quite happily looked after Lavender as well. I think Lavender gravitated towards Sally to begin with because they had both come from the same property and probably knew each other well. Streak didn’t mind at all, so they formed a happy threesome which lasted right through the season.
During this last season, Silver claimed Lavender for his mate, just as I originally intended. They were totally content. But alas, my little Lavender became very ill and eventually died. Once again, I don’t know why.
I allowed Silver to see her little body, and for about three or four days he mourned terribly. He called and called for Lavender, but she didn’t ever come.
With Silver being the odd male out again, I could feel it in my bones that trouble loomed! My foreboding proved correct… and this was the time that he fought over Grace, and then changed midstream and fought for Sally. This tended to upset everyone.
After Rose died, I needed another female for Streak so I bought Sally from the same place that Rose and Lavender came from. This meant that Streak was penned up for another two weeks, together with Sally, to allow them to bond. This also taught her that this is home and is where she is to roost. Poor Streak, it must have felt like a long time to him, having to do it twice within such a short period.
Sally and Streak bonded well and became firm friends and partners. I think this is one of the reasons that Lavender began to hang out with Sally (after Silver dumped her) because they would have known each other before coming here. They formed a working threesome which made them all happy.
After Lavender died I decided to purchase another female for Silver. I bought another silver-coloured bird and locked them both up together for two weeks to bond. Meanwhile, this allowed Grace to return to Gray who became a happy couple again.
But as it turned out, these two silver birds would never bond… never!
Turned out that my new silver bird was a cock bird!
The guy I bought him from was adamant that he’d given me a female. She looked female to me too as far as the wattles were concerned.
I had not seen a male before that had two flat wattles. All my boys have big puffed up wattles, except for Silver who has one flat and one puffed.
His helmet was not as big as my boys, but on thinking this through, I realise it’s most probably because he’s not as mature as them.
Another thing I noticed was that while they were locked up, I didn’t hear any female calling. All the proof I needed that I had purchased another male… which was the last thing I needed… another male!
So I let them out, and after a short time, they began to fight over the girls. Yes, I was right… he was definitely a male cock bird!
Unfortunately, Silver soon claimed Grace back, but Stirling wanted her too! Oh such an unwise move! Remember, whoever Silver set’s his eye on, he gets!
The fighting continued on and off for a few days and I didn’t take too much notice of it. I did see, at one time, that Stirling had Grace, but then another time I’d notice that Grace was with Silver.
But then a strange thing happened! All of a sudden, or so it seemed to me, they were still fighting but over a different girl. Now they both wanted Sally! Poor Gracie was cast aside and left to cry over her lost mate… who was Gray, er… Silver, er… Stirling! Who was it?
As usual, Silver was coming out as the overall winner with only a feather or two sticking out on weird angles. This wasn’t the case for Stirling. He was ruffled up with feathers sticking out in all directions.
Then I began to notice that Stirling’s head was becoming scratched and red, and would have been obviously sore, so I locked him up out of harm’s way.
Although Silver was winning, Stirling wouldn’t give up the fight… he was incredibly persistent.
The last thing I needed was another cock bird which left me once again with three girls and four males. Everything was going belly-up for me.
Oh, but things went from bad to worse!
We decided we would take Stirling back from whence he came, so my husband went down to catch him. It turned out to be a nightmare!
Stirling was extremely hard to catch, worse than any of the others I’ve had to catch before, and that’s saying something. Guineas are particularly hard birds to catch.
As my husband grabbed him and was trying to contain him, he inadvertently held onto his tail feathers… and you can guess what I’m going to say next! Yes, they whole lot came out in his hand. Stirling was now a bobtail! Nothing there!
I was a crying mess and ordered out of the pen and away.
I figured I couldn’t possibly take the bird back now without any tail! We both felt so awful.
My poor Stirling! He has such a wonderful nature and doesn’t even chase the chickens!
I don’t mean to portray my husband as a bully. He doesn’t have the deep love for them that I have, but he is always asking me what’s going on amongst them. He’s not that patient with my birds, not like I am, nor does he understand why they do certain things the way I do. But he would never mean to do anything to them that could cause harm or hurt them.
You see, it all happened so quickly. I know you can’t hold onto their tail feathers, but somehow it got lost in the moment. You need to use a hand-held fishing net when catching birds, but the one I had we’d recently thrown out as it fell apart.
My mind was made up… Stirling would stay and we’d find a wife for him.
So back I had to go to purchase yet another bird… this time a female, I hope.
Pearl & Stirling bonding
At this point in time I haven’t been able to get a good close-up photo of Pearl, but here she is locked up with Stirling.
She’s a pearl grey with a lovely hint of rose around her neck, just like Rose had. I was really happy to see that.
They are nearing the end of their two-week lock up period and I’m intending to start letting them out this weekend.
This time it’s really obvious that she’s a female. She calls relentlessly, all the more so, because she was taken from her mate when I purchased her. When I realised, I begged him not to give her to me, but to let her stay, but he didn’t have the patience for that. He told me he wasn’t going to muck around, and what I get, I get!
I could never do that, but I had to take her otherwise I’d have no-one for Stirling.
I’m happy to say that so far they are doing great. As Stirling came from the same place, he most probably would have recognised her, which is nice.