Friday, March 27, 2009

Velociraptor: Teenage Confusion

If I work on my laptop upstairs in the mornings, my eye is constantly being drawn to the west-facing window as chickens and guineas walk by, flap around, scratch for bugs, and discuss their interpersonal issues on the front lawn.

Isn't that what lawns are for?

Later in the day they generally move further afield. I suspect they are hunting for earthworms in the more closely mowed lawn area. The first time I saw a hen pull one out, just like a robin does, I was quite surprised. Didn't know they did that. Once the sun is well up, the worms go below and the chooks go looking for other things to eat.

This morning the fog was so thick in our little cleft that, despite the dogs' early patrols, I didn't let the birds out until about 9. Was aware of the usual activity in my peripheral vision as I returned email, then did a quick whiplash when this walked by:

It was still quite foggy, so the picture quality (even with electronic enhancements) is not great.

He's a young jake, and he was checking out the two hen guineas. By the time I ran downstairs, got the camera, ran back up and threatened the dogs with lifelong enrollment at a PetsMart clicker class if they didn't keep their gobs shut, the hens had moved off a little, possibly having concluded that the New Guy was a boring geek.

But my largest guinea cock had not:

The guinea is mostly feathers, and is fluffed up in a threat display. The jake, though not a big turkey, is probably three or four times his body mass. The guinea is no older than, and probably several months younger than, the jake.

Nevertheless ...

A little mean guy on his home turf can trump a lot of muscle.

I can't wait to see what transpires as breeding season approaches for both species.

Not to mention, what happens when we get our domestic heritage-breed turkeys in.


  1. We have a lot of wild turkeys around here. They hang out in groups and we see them a lot in the fall. They seem to like the woodsy area behind the small industrial development near us.

  2. I can state from personal experience that wild turkeys taste good too...

  3. We intend to conduct this experiment when gobbler season rolls around in May.

    But I hope we can find a research subject with a little more meat on his bones than Geeky McRaptor.

  4. We intend to conduct this experiment when gobbler season rolls around in May.

    But I hope we can find a research subject with a little more meat on his bones than Geeky McRaptor.

  5. Turkeys are a pain in the butt if you're a produce person. Yeah, they eat bugs, but they also like to peck holes in veggies, which makes the veggies spoil. One of Pepper's first jobs around here was to keep the wild turkeys out of the community garden.

    If it gets hot/dry this summer, put some birdbaths/some type of water out so the birds (all birds) can easily get a drink. Otherwise, they punch holes in the tomatoes for the liquid (first choice) and peppers (2nd choice and remember, birds can't taste capecisum [sp], so all peppers are sweet peppers and therefore, peckable, to them).


  6. There's a bunch of interesting photos of hybrid (in the true cross-species sense) guineafowl at Feathersite here -

  7. The reason why we call them turkeys is that Guinea fowl were called "turkey fowl" or "turkey cocks." They had been introduced to Western Europe via Asia Minor/Turkey/Ottoman Empire/Anatolia.

    When European explorers found domesticated fowl in Americas that looked similar to the Old World species, they were given the same name.

    As a result of this confusion, this bird has a diverse number of names.


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