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Species Guide
A photo of a Helmeted Guineafowl (Numida meleagris)
Helmeted Guineafowl

Helmeted Guineafowl

Numida meleagris

The Helmeted Guineafowl, Numida meleagris, is a distinctive bird, easily recognized by its round body, small head, and striking plumage. Adults typically measure 53 to 58 cm in length and weigh around 1.3 kg. Their feathers are predominantly gray-black, speckled with white, providing them with a somewhat polka-dotted appearance.

Identification Tips

One can identify the Helmeted Guineafowl by its bare head adorned with a bony knob, which can be dull yellow or reddish, and the surrounding skin may exhibit red, blue, or black colors. The wings and tail are short, contributing to a rather compact silhouette. Subspecies vary mainly in the size, shape, and color of the casque and facial wattles.


These birds favor warm, open environments with scattered shrubs and trees, such as savannas or farmlands, where they can forage and breed.


Native to Africa, mainly south of the Sahara, the Helmeted Guineafowl has been introduced to various regions worldwide, including the West Indies, North America, Colombia, Brazil, Australia, and Europe.


Helmeted Guineafowls are social creatures, forming flocks of about 25 individuals outside the breeding season. They are ground-dwelling birds, preferring to run rather than fly when threatened. Their flight is short and explosive, relying on gliding for longer distances. They are adept at running and can cover up to 10 km in a day. When alarmed, they emit loud, harsh calls.

Song & Calls

The calls of domesticated hens and the sounds of young birds, known as keets, are characteristic of this species.


These birds are seasonal breeders, with summer being the peak season. The female lays a clutch of 6 to 12 eggs in a well-hidden scrape and incubates them for 26 to 28 days. Larger clutches may indicate shared nesting.

Similar Species

While there are various subspecies of Helmeted Guineafowl, they are generally distinguishable from other guineafowl by their unique head ornamentation and coloration.

Diet and Feeding

The Helmeted Guineafowl's diet is diverse, including animal and plant foods. They consume seeds, tubers, and invertebrates, with a particular fondness for arthropods like beetles. They forage by scratching the ground with their strong claws.

Conservation status

The Helmeted Guineafowl is classified as Least Concern by the IUCN, indicating a stable population without significant threats at present.

Helmeted Guineafowl Sounds

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Helmeted Guineafowl Fun Facts

Did you know?
Helmeted Guineafowl prefer to walk than fly and can cover up to 10km a day.

Helmeted Guineafowls on Birda


More Guineafowl

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