Helmeted guineafowl

Helmeted guineafowl

Numida meleagris

Common name:

Helmeted guineafowl

Scientific name:

Numida meleagris

Alternative common names:


This is a gregarious species, forming flocks outside the breeding season typically of about 25 birds that also roost communally. Guineafowl are particularly well-suited to consuming massive quantities ofticks, which might otherwise spreadLyme disease.These birds are terrestrial, and prone to run rather than fly when alarmed.

Additional Information

Where does this species come from?


What is its invasive status in South Africa?

NEMBA Category 3.

Where in South Africa is it a problem?

Midlands of KwaZulu-Natal Province, Western Cape Province, Gauteng Province, and Mpumalanga Province.

How does it spread?

Spread via pet trade.

Why is it a problem?

Guineafowl can damage emerging seedlings of agricultural crops.

What does it look like?

Description: The helmeted guineafowl is a large (53–58 cm) bird with a round body and small head. They weigh about 1.3 kg. The body plumage is grey-black spangled with white. Like other guineafowl, this species has an unfeather head, in this case decorated with a dull yellow or reddish bony knob, and red and blue patches of skin. The wings are short and rounded, and the tail is also short. Various sub-species are proposed, differences appearance being mostly a large variation in shape, size and colour of the casque and facial wattles.

Habitat: Open country and farmlands with patches of trees.

Breeding: The nest is made by the female and consists of a scrape in the ground lined with grass stems and feathers and hidden among grass or other vegetation. Breeding generally follows good rains. There can be as many as 41 eggs in a single nest but this is due to egg dumping by other females. Thought that clutches of up to 12 eggs can be attributed to a single female. One egg is laid per day and the female then incubates the clutch for 24-27 days before they hatch. She sits tight for long periods, only feeding for one or two short periods per day. Meanwhile, the male has gone off court other unpaired females and mate with them. However, he gets back to the female soon after the chicks hatch. Chicks are precocial and can feed for themselves within 24 hours.

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