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!
It’s almost a bird soap opera! Sounds like the chickens would be better suited to that kind of show though … with them not being monogamous. Then again, you only have one male … so …
I must admit that the birds sound A LOT like cats with excess … personality and an iron-will to live their lives THEIR way! Either way, they sure bring a lot of enjoyment to our lives!
They sure do! Oh, it’s definitely a bird soap opera around here….we never know what’s going to happen next, and we are totally addicted to the show! 🙂
Sounds like your flock is keeping you on your toes.
You’d think it was their job or something. 🙂
Ducky's Mom says
Wishing you and the Dadz all the best in your nest hunting and chick/keet hatching!! I doubt I’d have the patience to continue the hunt for as long as you have!!
I know my hubby’s patience ran out a while ago! I’m more persistent, but I just don’t have the time for it these days!
The hunt is over for now, we think our female stopped laying; perhaps because she thought it was time to sit on her eggs. That’s our best guess right now anyway….stay tuned!
Tails Around the Ranch says
Boy I’d make a horrible chicken farmer-I had no idea there was so much behind raising chicks and keets from eggs. Fingers crossed you get some baby peepers soon. Good luck!
There’s definitely far more to it than I realized when we got into it too! It’s a constant learning process, and just when we think we’ve figured things out, the birds change the rules. LOL
Melissa K. Clinton says
This is all so exciting! I hope the mama chick is not depressed if her eggs don’t hatch.
She seems to be OK, she was willing to still keep trying though!
What a fun and maybe frustrating for you story. Hope those eggs all hatch and that your plan for a ‘foster’ mom-hen works out, too:)
The plans have already changed….Mama decided she was no longer interested. But we have another candidate, if we can keep her interested for long enough. It’s definitely frustrating at times, but yes, fun too!
LLB in Our Backyard says
How exciting! Never a dull moment with your birds 🙂
That’s for sure!!
Kim - Life at Golden Pines says
I love reading about your adventures and even the challenges of the hide ‘n seek for eggs! I always feel bad when a hen has worked so hard to hatch her eggs, and they don’t. So, I’m cheering on that those eggs in the incubator do!
I know, I felt bad for our hen too! She was so dedicated! Just a couple more weeks for the incubator. All fingers, paws, and claws are crossed here. 🙂
joann stancer says
Good luck with the eggs in the incubator. That’s a neat incubator I haven’t seen that kind.
It works really well!
Ellen Pilch says
The guinea hens sound very smart to me.
I think they are….but they just like to be silly sometimes too. 🙂
The Island Cats says
We can’t wait to see what hatches!
Brian Frum says
Too funny those guinea hens are messing with you. I hope you do get some hatching going on soon!
I think they enjoy running us ragged. LOL
they are super smart!!! I love them! I’m afraid when you are at story #10 I can no longer resist and buy some hahahahaha
We’d better get to work on the next stories then! 🙂
Birds have their ways and there’s nothing we can do about it. It’s fun to read about your adventures though.
Have a fabulous day and weekend. Smooches to Luke. ♥
Yup, we’re just along for the ride!
Oh Mom would get really frustrated always having to hunt for the nest with the eggs. It sounds like you enjoy it all, though and that is what matters. The eggs in the incubator look so pretty! Hope you get chicks soon.
We have been pretty frustrated! There’s more to the story, but I think I finally figured out what they were up to just recently.
Pretty soon we’ll have all those chicks to keep us busy anyway, they are easier to figure out!
We love hearing about life with the guinea hens and their craziness and the eggs in the incubator are so pretty. We can’t wait to see the eggs hatch!
I’ll definitely be taking some video!