Guinea Fowl, Or Pintado a gallinaceous bird, of the turkey family, and genus numida (Linn.), characterized by a moderate bill, with arched culmen and upper mandible overhanging the lower, and lateral margins smooth and curved; nostrils large, oval, and partly covered by a membrane; wings moderate, with the fifth quill longest; tail short and pendent; tarsi longer than middle toe, without spurs, covered in front with broad divided scales; toes moderate, the anterior united at their base by a membrane, the hind toe short and elevated; claws short and very slightly curved. There are five species described by Gray, all of which have the head more or less naked, with fleshy caruncles below the bill, and some with a callous crest; the neck is long and slender, the body stout, and the feathers of the rump have an inflated appearance. They are peculiar to Africa, where they frequent woods on the banks of rivers in flocks of 200 or 300, scattering in search of food, which consists of grains, grasshoppers, ants, and other insects; when alarmed, they attempt to escape by running rather than flight; the eggs are numerous, and laid in a slight nest in a bush or thicket.

The common Guinea or pea fowl (N. meleagris, Linn.) is slate-colored, covered all over with rounded white spots, and is about the size of the domestic cock. It was well known to the ancients, by whom it was domesticated for the sake of its flesh, and who named it meleagris. Guinea fowls are very noisy and troublesome, always quarrelling with the other inmates of the poultry yard; they are hard to raise, from the delicacy of the young and their liability to disease; their flesh is of fine flavor, and their eggs are excellent. They are not profitable to the farmer, are great eaters, requiring to be fed beyond what they can pick up by themselves, and are apt to injure tender buds and flowers. One male suffices for 10 females; they lay in May or June 16 to 24 eggs, with a hard shell, of a yellowish white color with small brown points; they are poor sitters and not very tender mothers; incubation lasts three weeks, and is best performed by the common hen. The crested pintado (N. cristata, Pall.) has a crest of black feathers, and the body black with blue spots; the mitred pintado (N. mitrata, Pall.) has the head surmounted by a conical helmet, and is black, white spotted.

Both these species have the same habits as the first, and could be as easily domesticated.

Guinea Fowl (Numida meleagris).

Guinea Fowl (Numida meleagris).