Species Accounts Pheasants & Peafowl Quail Francolin & Partridge Grouse Guineafowl & Turkey Cracids Megaopdes

Elbin, S.B.; Crowe, T.M.; Graves, H.B. 1986. Reproductive behavior of helmeted guinea fowl (Numida meleagris): mating system and parental care. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 16: 179-197.

This distinctive African gamebird was first introduced to New Zealand in the 1860s; none of these early releases was successful. The scattered groups of birds found today probably all originated from birds that have wandered off from farmyards. The species has been domesticated for thousands of years, and probably all birds released locally come from domestic stock.

Guineafowl, sometimes called pintades or gleanies, are a family of birds originating from Africa, related to other game birds such as the pheasants, turkeys and partridges; they have a long history of domestication, mainly involving the helmeted guineafowl.

As domestics, guineafowl are valuable pest controllers, eating many insects. They are especially beneficial in controlling the Lyme disease-carrying deer tick, as well as wasp nests. While they are rarely kept in large numbers, a few are sometimes kept with other fowl to be used as a security system against birds of prey. They will call with their loud, high shrieking voices if concerned about intruders. They are highly social birds and tend to languish when alone.

Frost, P.G.H. 2013. Helmeted guineafowl. In Miskelly, C.M. (ed.) New Zealand Birds Online. www.nzbirdsonline.org.nz

Within the domesticated species, many color variations have been bred forth aside from the "pearl" or natural color of the helmeted guinea. These include white, purple, slate, chocolate, lavender, coral blue, bronze, pewter, buff dundotte, blonde, and various pieds.

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Sexing the birds is not as simple as telling a rooster from a hen chicken. When they are adults, the helmet and wattles of the male are larger than those of the female, and only the female makes the two-note cry imitated as "Buck-wheat!" or "Pot-rack!" Aside from that, though, the two sexes are mostly identical in appearance.

Ogawa, H. 2004. Physiology of egg-laying in the guineafowl (Numida meleagris). Japanese Journal of Poultry Science 41: 142-150 (in Japanese; English abstract).

It can be cooked using any recipe that calls for chicken, but is considered to be more flavorful and, because of its higher cost, is generally served at special occasions. It is particularly common in French and Italian recipes.

Malan, G.; Benn, G.A. 1999. Agricultural land-use patterns and the decline of the helmeted guineafowl Numida meleagris (Linnaeus 1766) in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 73: 29-40.

A plump chicken-sized bird with a humped-back appearance, small head and short neck. It has a bony horn or casque on top of the head and its slate grey feathers are speckled with white spots.

Heather, B.D.; Robertson, H.A. 1996. The field guide to the birds of New Zealand. Viking, Auckland.

Geographical variation: Up to nine subspecies are recognised; New Zealand birds are presumed to have originated from domestic stock (principally N. m. meleagris and N. m. galeatus)

Ratcliffe, C.S.; Crowe, T.M. 2001. Habitat utilisation and home range size of helmeted guineafowl (Numida meleagris) in the Midlands of KwaZulu-Natal province, South Africa. Biological Conservation 98: 333-345.

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