Published in The Green Issue 205
For many years now we’ve had a gang of rebels making noise in the neighbourhood, but these aren’t your usual crew of troublemakers. Yes, they’re noisy. Yes, they go around in large groups. And yes, their appearance often frightens small children (their small, wrinkly, bald heads can be a little scary on first introduction), but they have so many positive qualities.
They’re the first to announce visitors, spot snakes, goannas and birds of prey and they do a great job of pest management. Guinea Fowl are insect and seedeaters, so they make the most of such things like wasps, termites, snails, ticks, spiders, lice and other bugs; all of which are beneficial for the plant, human and animal populations on The Ridge.
Originally natives of Africa, the black and white spotted Guinea Fowl can be found throughout Australia in both domestic and wild flocks. The flock on our ridge seems to take a little from column A and a little from column B here. We’re not sure who they originally belonged to or how long ago they were classed as domestic, but we do know they have been roaming freely for many generations.
Although I’m yet to spot any little brown keets (the babies) there are many juveniles that have a lighter, less spotted plumage, so it would appear that even though they are ground-nesters, they are pretty good at hiding their eggs and managing predators as we often see in excess of 20 birds at once.
Over the years I’ve really come to enjoy and appreciate these visitors. They’ve saved several chickens by raising the “snake alarm”, and their flighty antics always raise a smile.