Are Guinea Fowl Smart Birds, or Not? (& Other Farm News)
If you talk to people who have guinea hens in their flock, a good majority of those people are going to tell you that guinea fowl are not very smart birds (I’m putting it more diplomatically than most do!). I’ve said it myself, as I’ve watched one run along the inside perimeter of the run frantically trying to get out….when the gate is open just behind them.
They fly into Luke’s dog yard and then can’t figure out how to get back out. They either sometimes forget that they can fly, or they’re lazy and would rather wait for us to come herd them through the gate so Luke can have his yard back.
At other times, they do things that seem incredibly smart. Recently, we were trying to figure out where the female guineas were hiding their nests. One morning I was down in the garden working and a group of them were squawking and carrying on. Not that they don’t do that a lot, but they do that when the female is sitting on her nest, probably as a way to distract or scare off any predators that might be around. That alone seems smart!
Since we were on the hunt for that nest (or nests, since two females should be laying now), I decided to go see what they were up to. That’s when I took a photo for a previous post and mentioned I couldn’t wait to tell you the rest of the story behind that! When I got to the group, I counted only 7 birds, and we have 9. That meant that the female may have been on her nest with her mate guarding her. Our one “pied” guinea hen (a mixture of white and the common pearl gray colors) is the male in one of the pairs and he was not there.
I talk to our birds all the time. So, I said “Where’s Pumpkin (Pied), you guys? Is he at a nest? Someone show me where Pumpkin is!”. I kid you not…….one of the gray guineas ran right past me and down the trail towards the garden. I followed him. Then he went below the garden and towards the brush, and lo and behold, there was Pumpkin sitting on top of the stone wall! I was amazed!
Because that gave us a good idea of where to look, we ended up finding the nest. We took a couple of the eggs, left three, and then got the egg every day for the next ten until we had enough to put a dozen in the incubator. One of my nephews wants six of the keets (as baby guineas are called), and we will keep whatever is left for ourselves, depending on how many hatch.
The next few days after we filled the incubator when my hubby checked the nest…..there were no new eggs. Did Mama guinea finally catch on to us and decide to move her nest? Where is the other female laying? I’ve seen two of the gray ones mating, so I know the other female is fertile (guineas are monogamous so Pumpkin’s girl would not be with any of the other males; unlike chickens). While I’ve been on the hunt for the nest, what might have been that same guinea once again led me to where two of the guineas were hanging out on their own (I didn’t find the nest though).
Smart or not? They are certainly outsmarting us right now!
Further Farm News
I told you I had another story to tell, but was waiting to see how it played out. One of our chickens had gone “broody” and wanted to sit on eggs to hatch some! We tried to get her to do so in a different location than inside the high-off-the-coop-floor nesting box, but she would not cooperate with that and ultimately won the battle. We put ten fertile eggs under her, and she was supposed to hatch them in 21 days. During the first few days, we found 2 eggs on the floor. Guess she didn’t like those, or maybe she knew they weren’t really fertile? We don’t know how she got them out of the box which has a large lip on the front, but two more were thrown out as well.
By the time her 21 days was up, when she took her break from the nest, we found there were only 4 eggs left under her! Who knows what happened to the others? However, we got to day 25 and she still hadn’t hatched those four, so it was time to remove them. We don’t know why she didn’t succeed, our only guess is that the ambient air in the coop was just too cool. That nesting box is slotted underneath so maybe she just couldn’t keep them warm enough.
She still hasn’t given up though, she continues to sit in the nest, switching boxes whenever someone else lays an egg! We keep taking the eggs away, out of concern for her health. Hens don’t always eat or drink much when they’re sitting on the nest, though we did at least know she was coming off some. I took her out the other day, and she went running around the yard and looked and seemed fine.
We’ve now also put 10 chicken eggs in the incubator to try to hatch them that way. While keeping a close eye on her health, we’d like her to stay broody because that could mean that if they hatch in the incubator, both the chicks and guinea keets, we could slip them under her in the evening and she might raise them. She would protect them from the rest of the flock while they grew up, so we wouldn’t have to cage them separately.
We’re not sure how that’s going to go, however! So far, all these farm birds have been doing their best to do things their own way! Wish us luck, we’re going to need it!
Thanks to our friends The LLB Gang for hosting the Nature Friday blog hop. Please visit them and other blogs through the links below!