Guinea fowl, curlew chicks and farewells

There have been a few changes to the birdlife on the farm over the last week or so, leaving us saying bon voyage to one bird and goodbye to another.

Below are the last pics I took of our baby curlew before it disappeared.  You can see it sitting cuddled up against one parent while the other stands guard.  Take a look at the facial expressions on the parent curlews –  talk about protective!  You wouldn’t want to mess with that baby bird!

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Curlews grow incredibly quickly, we’ve discovered.  About a week after those photos were taken, the ‘baby’curlew was so grown up we couldn’t distinguish it from its parents.  And a day after that it was gone.  No feathers, no sign of any violence, just gone.

I’ve read that parent curlews often chase their offspring away, sometimes in a pretty nasty manner, before laying a second and final clutch of eggs for the nesting season.  Yet the actions of our curlews tell a different story.  Every afternoon since their baby disappeared, the curlews have flown to the neighbour’s property, always at the same time of day and following exactly the same flight path.  They disappear behind a large tree so we can’t see exactly where they go, but the kids and I like to think that they’re checking on their baby to see if it’s settling in nicely to its own new territory.  We can’t think of any other reason to explain why the day after their baby disappears, the curlews suddenly start visiting a neighbouring territory.

With the first baby gone, maybe sometime soon we’ll have a second batch of fluffy curlew chicks toddling about the farm.

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On a sadder note, our guinea fowl flock has lost a member.  Driving home the other day we noticed that the country lane running past our property was strewn with feathers.  A little grey feathery body was slumped lifeless beside the road.  We’re assuming our fifth guinea fowl was hit by a car (surely if a wild dog was the culprit it would’ve taken the body away?)

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, we inherited our flock of guinea fowl from the previous owners of our farm.  But, in reality, no one really ‘owns’ a flock of guinea fowl.  Unless you keep them in a giant cage (where I don’t imagine they’d be particularly happy), they roam far and wide.  They’ll stop by your property for a regular feed of grain if you offer it, but other than that they really just do their own thing, coming and going as they please.

As independent, endearing and gorgeous as they are, guinea fowl really have no sense of road safety.  They wander from property to property, frequently crossing roads at a very relaxed pace, never particularly bothered if a car is approaching.

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There’s a large flock of guinea fowl (maybe twenty or so) at the end of our lane and we often have to stop for stray members of that flock straggling behind while crossing the road.  Our flock, although much smaller, is no different in its complete disregard for personal safety when it comes to cars.  So now we’re down to a flock of four.

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As the guinea fowl don’t seem to be in any rush to produce chicks (‘keets’), we’re looking into whether we can purchase and raise our own to increase the flock size.  We need to do some research to find out whether introducing new keets would cause territorial behaviour from the original flock.  Anyway, something to think about…

To end on a happier subject, our sick cow, Cherry, is looking super fit and back to his healthy self after his illness.

You win some, you lose some, as they say.

 

 

 

 

 

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