Friday, September 25, 2015

Guinea Non Grata

by Pa Rock
Poultry Provocateur

One more tale from the barnyard.

I don't know the collective noun for guineas - or even if there is one.  Based on my own observations of the hard-working farm fowl, I would hope that it is something both descriptive as well as colorful - such as a "geyser" or a "squawk" of guineas, but with my little assemblage of just eight of the chigger-chasers, I doubt that the world will be beating a path to my door in search of the best collective noun.  So for the purposes of this essay, I will simply refer to mine as a "flock."

Guineas are the most self-reliant breed of fowl at Rock's Roost.   They search out their own food supply and navigate the farm during the day in an established pattern that runs as if on a schedule.  The only things guineas are not adept at is self-protection.  Last year I lost my entire flock of twenty to nighttime predators.  This year I lost nineteen of twenty-eight to predators, but the remaining nine managed to survive most of the summer as a cohesive group.  Then, while I was in Alaska, predators caught one napping.

Guineas stick together.  They dart from place to place across the lawn, a quick herd movement, and always together.  On the odd occasion when one or two get separated from the group, a squawk goes up from all of the birds until the errant few find their way back to the flock.

Yesterday morning, while scattering bread for the chickens, I noticed that another guinea was missing - bringing the size of the flock down to seven.  A bit later as I was giving the peacocks their daily bread - and forgiving their trespasses - I came upon the errant guinea.  Soon the rest of the flock wandered close to the scene, and the lost guinea rushed to rejoin his friends.  This time, however, instead of welcoming him back, several birds in the main group charged out and ran him off.  A few minutes later the scene was repeated.  It was obvious that he had become a guinea non grata.

This morning the little guinea is still on his own.

Expulsion from the flock is so un-guinea-like.  I am puzzled as to what behavior or circumstance could lead an established member of the flock to be driven out.

Life at the farm continues to be an education - and an amazement!

1 comment:

Xobekim said...

It may be, and this is just a theory, that a dominant cock has taken over the herd and the little lost fellow is no longer welcome. It seems harsh treatment for a species that hates to be alone.