Guineafowl – The racketeers

Our Urban Wild

Everybody knows a guineafowl. When Nature wanted to design a bird able to survive in the harsh African bush this is what it came up with. Shaped dynamically to slip through dense grass and scrub as slick as an eel through seaweed, it can fly like a bullet but prefers to hide and run except in emergency. A flock of hundreds can simply vanish in all directions in the African veld. Its smooth hard feathers are so tough a blast of shotgun pellets that would fell a pheasant simply rattle off it unless the range is close.

And it is not easy to spot. Among ordinary chickens it stands out like a camel among horses.

Almost everyone knows what a guineafowl looks like: the narrow smooth body with short tapered tail, tight-fitting black feathers patterned with rows of white polka dots, everything carried on short strong legs. One of the…

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