Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Can we keep him, Mom? Please?!

Yesterday morning we heard a commotion coming from the chickens in the electric poultry netting. While DS and I went out expecting to witness an imminent predator attack, we instead discovered a guinea fowl walking around the yard near the chickens penned on the garden.

The roosters were trying to get the hens under the portable coop or feeding station and were glancing nervously over their shoulders at the marauder who was answering their danger-danger squawks with his own loud chit-chits. Once we were on the scene the hens began to quiet down and came out for their share of the chicken treats DS had grabbed on his way out the door. The guinea cockerel came closer to the electric netting and, after DS turned off the charger and I held up one of the fiberglass posts, went into the pen with the chickens.

Well, I didn't know what else to do with him and that seemed like a good option at the time.

After watching them for a few minutes and determining the guinea wasn't planning to take advantage of his size and bully the chickens, we went back to our regular chores. Throughout the day we checked on the guinea and I called a couple of neighbors to see if we could locate the guinea's owner, even calling the SPCA in case he'd been reported missing, but no luck.

The guinea made his chit-chit call almost all day. It was loud enough to be heard in the house but didn't seem to indicate any distress on his part. He mainly paced along the half of the pen the chickens alloted him. Once or twice he wandered near the feeders and waterers but mostly kept his distance. The roos definitely kept theirs! Anytime the guinea moseyed their way, the roosters practically ran over the hens to get out of his way. But he never offered them any violence or really seemed to notice them as individuals at all. By evening we'd discovered he particularly liked chicken scratch and that he stopped making his call while eating.

At dusk, DS and I donned long-sleeve jackets and gloves, expecting we'd have to bundle him into the portable coop when it was time to close the doors. But DS spotted the guinea near the top of the smoke tree when we went out. The smoke tree is near the garden but well outside the netting so he had to have flown over the fence and then up into the tree. He was about 15 feet off the ground and close to the end of a slender branch. Of course, the leaves aren't out yet so he was very exposed but we decided to leave him there for the night.

It stormed here last night. Lots of wind. Caused Holly-dog to push our bedroom door open and squeeze into her favorite spot for riding out storms -- under the bed. I woke up worrying about the guinea. DH promised he'd go looking for him in the morning.

This morning just after sunrise when DH went out to open the coop, the guinea was already down from the tree and back inside the ring of netting. He's decided he likes it here, I guess. And DS has gone from asking "Can we keep him?" to "Let's order some guineas when we order the baby chicks!"

Below is a video I shot when he first went into the chicken pen yesterday. Even with the sound of the breeze, you can clearly hear his chit-chit call over the usual clucks and crows from the chickens.


Everett said...

We have nine guineas (formerly a dozen) and they're great. They used to go up into the coop at night, but as soon as spring peeked its head around the corner they began roosting in the pine trees in the side yard. They seem pretty safe up there and since the pines stay green all year it's a good spot. They're also right outside our bedroom window and serve as great intruder alarms!

We feed them "Game bird feed" which is kind of a mash and is available at most feed stores.

Good luck and have fun with your new bird!

Carolyn at Walnut Spinney said...

Thanks for the note about the "Game bird feed" -- I'll check for it at our farmers' co-op because it looks like he might be here to stay.

I'm wondering if he'll move to another "roosting tree" as we move the chickens around. Usually we re-locate the netting every 7 days during the warmer months and there are a few spots where "his" tree will be quite a ways away. Guess we'll find out soon.