Vulturine Guinea Fowl – Species Profile & Facts
Vulturine guinea fowl is the most exotic of all types of guinea fowls. This uniquely beautiful, large, and striking bird resembles a vulture, hence the name. It has a slim and protruding neck that stands out from its long, glossy white and blue cape.
Adult vulturine guinea fowls are brilliantly colored. They also have a cobalt-blue chest with a fancy bare blue face and a black neck. Their body plumage is somewhat black with some fine spangling of white stripes.
Both male and female vulturine guinea fowls have the same type of color patterns. But females are slightly smaller in body size. They also have smaller tarsal spurs compared to males. Chicks usually have light blue plumage underneath during the first few weeks of their growth and development
Like other guinea fowls, vulturine guinea fowls prefer scrublands and dry savannas of Eastern Africa. These birds hold a higher status in aviculture. They are extremely popular and always in high demand among private aviculturists. That’s why their population among private owners is currently on the increase.
History of Vulturine Guinea Fowl
Vulturine guinea fowl is scientifically known as Acryllium vulturinum. It is considered the largest extant species of guinea fowl birds and is distantly related to a great number of other guinea fowl genera. Vulturine guinea fowl is currently the only existing member of the genus Acryllium and a member of the bird family known as Numididae.
Now the question is, what is the origin of vulturine guinea fowls? Since vulturine guinea fowls belong to the guinea fowl group of birds, their origin is Africa. These birds have been hunted or bred for their meat across many countries for several centuries. Their drawings can be found on the walls of Egyptian pyramids.
Cross-breeding over many years has contributed to different colors of birds within the guinea fowls. The domesticated ones, including the vulturine guinea fowl, can trace their origin from what was initially referred to as the Guinea Coast (hence the name) of West Africa.
Some people raise vulturine guinea fowls mainly for their appealing ornamental value. As a matter of fact, this type of guinea fowl is the largest member. It is also known as the Royal Guinea Fowl due to its stature, color, and striking blue plumage.
A vulturine guinea fowl is a gregarious bird. It can form flocks, especially out of the breeding season to find protection when in large numbers. Apart from that, it’s a resident breeder in parts of southern Ethiopia through Kenya and northeastern Africa including northern Tanzania.
Unlike the rest of other guinea fowls, the vulturine guinea fowl produces a unique, softer, and peaceful sound.
Vulturine Guinea Fowl Characteristics
The vulturine guinea fowl displays several unique characteristics. These vibrant birds have the ability to run at high avian speeds. For that reason, they rarely need to fly unless they are flying to their roosts.
Their sexes are also something that makes them a unique species of guinea fowls. This is because they are indistinguishable from each other. Both males and females display the same physical characteristics and coloring.
This type of guinea fowl can also reproduce extensively just like the hens. Their hens can produce eggs that are quite thick and strong. In some cases, several vulturine guinea fowl hens share the same roosting nests. Their chicks can fly shortly in a few days because they are almost fully developed when they are hatched.
Quite many guinea fowls prefer living in groups of up to 20 individuals. But vulturine guinea fowls can live in flocks of 20 to 30 birds. They roost or rest in trees, especially during the night.
Also, they constantly call to each other and their calls can vary from one bird to another. What is more, their unique calls are used primarily to warn others of the impending intruders and to locate other flock members.
– Size & Weight
Generally, vulturine guinea fowls have plump and round bodies that give them their unique appearance. On average, a vulturine guinea fowl can grow to a size of 24 inches (52.8cm) in length.
Adults can weigh between 2.2 lbs and 3.5 lbs (1 and 1.6kg). Most of their weight is mainly concentrated in the main body area. However, these birds have short bills and long, strong legs. Their tail is shorter than those found in other species of birds and it always points downward.
As mentioned above, males are generally larger and taller than female vulturine guinea fowls.
All types of guinea fowls including Vulture Guinea Fowls are sweet-natured when they are still young but notoriously bad-tempered in adulthood. They are highly social among themselves.
Where one goes others will follow. In case one of them gets lost while roaming the backyard it will call others constantly until the rest of the flock members come to its rescue.
Vulturine guinea fowls can also co-exist with domestic birds such as chickens. But you should be on the lookout for male vulturine guinea fowls because they may become very territorial and violent against other roosters within your flock.
At times they can bully smaller birds and establish a brutal pecking order. You can solve this problem by raising them alongside chicks.
On the positive side, vulturine guinea fowls can fight off even the most daring and fearsome hawks or any other birds of prey while protecting their keets. Overall, these species of guinea fowl are quite active and more energetic than their close relative, the domestic chickens.
Under good care, a vulturine guinea fowl can live up to approximately 10 to 15 years old.
– Egg Production
A female vulturine guinea fowl can lay between 12 and 15 small eggs. The nest for laying eggs is usually scratched into the ground and hidden among some weeds or other cover. In some cases, clutches belonging to a vulturine guinea fowl hens can contain as much as 30 eggs.
The incubation period for these eggs takes around 26 to 28 days before hatching to give rise to baby fowls commonly known as keets.
– Meat Production
You can also raise vulturine guinea fowls for meat. Even though these birds are good at eating, their meat is always lean. The meat can also be dry if you cook it incorrectly. A single vulturine guinea fowl can feed at least two adults. Its meat tastes much like Pheasant.
You can fry, roast, braise, or even casserole the meat. The meat of the young vulturine guinea fowl is delicate, juicy, tender, and well-flavored. Besides the meat, vulturine guinea fowls are raised around the world for eggs and feathers.
Vulturine Guinea Fowl Care
If you are looking forward to raising vulturine guinea fowls for meat, eggs, or their beautiful feathers, you should be ready to meet their essential requirements. Some of their needs include:
– Feeding & Nutrition
Most farmers choose to raise different kinds of guinea fowls, of which a vulturine guinea fowl is one of them. One of the reasons these birds are popular on the farm is their ability to control animal pests and insects.
The two are part of its diet although you can provide them with some poultry feed during the warm seasons to supplement their diet. High-protein grains with leafy greens should come in handy to provide essential nutrients for your fowls during the cold season. Compared to chickens, vulturine guinea fowls need large quantities of protein-rich foods.
Vulturine guinea fowls have been raised by humans for thousands of years. Unfortunately, these lovely birds have never been truly domesticated. They are hardy birds and can survive in most climates.
However, they don’t do well in snow, cold or wet conditions. Being endemic to warm climates in Africa, they prefer warm conditions. Make sure to keep them draft-free and dry in their housing.
– Health Problems
Since vulturine guinea fowls are not easily domesticated, there is not much to talk about their health problems. Regardless, these birds can suffer from egg-binding and impacted crop in the same way as barnyard poultry.
Both of these problems will require veterinary care as soon as possible. Get in touch with your local veterinary officer who is knowledgeable about poultry health problems before you can start keeping your vulturine guinea fowls.
When it comes to breeding vulturine guinea fowls, males and females should be paired for life. These birds are normally monogamous and will only mate with their paired partners but not with any other individuals. The male assumes a hump-backed posture during the courting period while strutting in front of the female partner.
Native to Eastern Africa, vulturine guinea fowls are lovely birds. They are easily tamed and can thrive best in an aviary. Make sure to keep them in pairs along with other species provided that their aviary is spacious enough to accommodate all of them.
Additionally, a minimum of three to four weeks is recommended before allowing your newly acquired vulturine guinea fowls to free-range in your backyard. This confinement prevents them from wandering too far in search of food and water.
Most importantly, provide them with the right conditions throughout to help them get used to their new environment.