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Helmeted Guineafowl

Helmeted Guineafowl
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Class: Aves
Order: Galliformes
Genus: Numida
Binomial name
Numida meleagris
The Helmeted Guineafowl, Numida meleagris, is the best known of the guineafowl bird family, Numididae. It breeds in Africa, mainly south of the Sahara, and has introduced populations in the West Indies and southern France.

It breeds in warm, fairly dry and open habitats with scattered bushes and trees, such as savannah or farmland. It lays its large clutch of eggs in a well-hidden lined scrape. It is often domesticated, and it is this species, which is sold in western supermarkets.

This is a large (60-68cm) bird with a round body and small head. The body plumage is grey-black spangled with white. Like other guineafowl, this species has an unfeathered head, in this case decorated with a dull yellow or reddish bony knob, and red and blue patches of skin. The wings are short and rounded, and the tail is also short.

This is a gregarious species, forming flocks outside the breeding season typically of about 25 birds. Food is seeds and small invertebrates. This guineafowl is terrestrial, and will run rather than fly when alarmed. It makes loud harsh calls when disturbed.

In the early days of the European colonisation of North America, the native Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo was confused with this species. This led to the English name of the American bird, since Turkey and Guinea were equally far-off and exotic places. The word meleagris Greek for guineafowl is also shared in the scientific names of the two species.