Helmeted guineafowl

Helmeted guineafowl
Numida meleagris
Photo by Warwick Tarboton (Warwick Tarboton)

Common name:

Order Galliformes
Family Numididae

This species is widespread in Africa south of the Sahara, but generally absent from rain forest and desert. It has been introduced in Brazil, the West Indies and southern France.

The helmeted guineafowl is 53-63 cm long and weighs 1,2-1,6 kg.

They generally prefer warm, dry, open habitats, such as forest margins, savannas, steppes, semi-deserts and agricultural land. At the regional scale their distribution is often determined by water availability and they are commonly found near water points. They are present from sea level up to an altitude of 3.000 m.

These omnivorous birds mostly eat insects, namely grasshoppers and termites, during the breeding season, while mostly eating plant matter, including bulbs, stems and seeds, outside the breeding season.

The helmeted guineafowl can breed all year round, varying between different parts of their range. 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. There she lays 6-12 eggs which she incubates alone for 26-28 days. The chicks are precocial and can feed for themselves within 24 hours. During the first few weeks the male cares for them most of the time, but later the female also helps. The chicks fledge about 30 days after hatching.
IUCN status – LC (Least Concern)
This species has an extremely large breeding range a global population of 1-2,5 million individuals. The population may be suffering significant declines in parts of the range, probably due to habitat destruction. Still, overall, this species is not considered threatened at present.

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