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Galliformes [pheasants, partridges, turkeys, quail, and guineafowl]
(vulture-like); first described by Hardwicke in 1834
Primarily bright blue body with black and white streaks and small white dots on the back feathers. They have a "horny" helmet on top of their naked heads. The head region is bright with blue, red, and yellow. The eyes are red and the beak is short and black. There is a band of tiny brown feathers on the back of its head. Species does not exhibit noticeable sexual dimorphism.
Adults are between 50.8-52.8 cm (20-24 in.) in length
Seeds, roots, tubers, grubs, rodents, small reptiles, and crawling insects, occasionally vegetation and fruits
28 days; chicks are precocial and have gold and brown-striped down plumage
Eastern tropical Africa; can be found in the countries of Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, E. Uganda, and N.E. Tanzania
Dry desert areas with tall grass, patches of scrub, thorn bushes, and a few trees. These birds seem to prefer high perches for nocturnal roosting.
Exact population numbers are unknown, however, they have been seen moving commonly in groups of 25-30. There are also documented reports of groups in excess of 70 individuals.
There are 7 different species of guineafowl.
The vulturine guineafowl is often referred to as the "royal guineafowl" because it tends to have the most striking appearance.
They are named for their bald head and neck, which resembles a vulture.
Guineafowl are both monomorphic and monochromatic - meaning that both sexes have a very similar form and coloration. In other words, it can be difficult to distinguish the sexes.
Captive hens have produced up to 40 eggs in just one season (3 clutches).
The eggshells of this species are extremely thick and difficult to break. Chicks hatch by "breaking out" instead of chipping away at the shell.
These birds are excellent runners and rarely fly, with exception of reaching nocturnal roosting perches.
The chicks are well-developed when they hatch and can fly within a few days.
These birds roost high in trees at night. Their calls, when disturbed or excited, can be heard over long distances.
Nests may contain eggs from more than one hen; hens may share incubation duties.
These birds can be quite aggressive and have been known to fatally injure their own kind if competition for food or prime roosting areas comes into question. Even the chicks have been known to attack one another.
Males tend to be very aggressive towards the hens most of the time. One effective way to distinguish the sexes is by observing each individual's body posture. The males tend to carry their heads high and attempt to look as big as possible. Females, on the other hand, tend to adopt a submissive posture.
These birds can survive long periods without water and tend to acquire the majority of their water requirements from the vegetation that they consume.
ECOLOGY AND CONSERVATION
The Pheasants of the World
. 2nd ed. World Pheasant Association and Spur Publications, Hindhead, U.K., 1977.
Birds - Their Latin Names Explained
. Poole, Dorst: Blandford Press, 1981.
Perrins, Dr. Christopher M.
The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Birds: The Definitive Reference to Birds of the World
. New York: Prentice Hall Press, 1990.
Hayes, Leland B., Ph.D.
How I Raise Vulturine Guineafowl