Range: Eastern Africa, Somalia, southern Ethiopia, eastern Kenya and northern Tanzania.
Habitat: Dry savannahs and scrublands.
Description: Large, unmistakable guineafowl; the bare skin of the head and neck is bluish-gray with a band of short chestnut feathers that extends behind the eyes on the back of the head; long, white striped plumes extend from the breast and back; the upper back and breast is brilliant blue, with a black patch on the center of the chest; wings and rear half of body spotted with a long, drooping tail. Females are similar to the males, but slightly smaller and have smaller tarsal spurs. Chicks much like other guineafowl, but develop light blue underparts in a few weeks.
Status in Wild: Common and not threatened.
Status in Aviculture: Popular and highly sought after, they are still relatively uncommon in private aviaries, but numbers are increasing.
Breeding Season: Varies, I've worked with birds that would lay in early spring and again in the fall.
Breeding Age: First year.
Clutch Size: 4 to 8, but will lay several clutches if eggs removed.
Incubation Period: 24 days.
Misc. Aviculture Notes: This species does very well in the aviary. Males can sometimes be a little aggressive towards their keeper and hens, so plan for a large sized aviary with plenty of cover for the hen. They are hardy birds, tolerate heat well, but will need some protection on the coldest days of the winter. They are best kept in pairs, but can kept with other species as long as they aviary is large enough.
Breeding Vulturine Guineafowl presents no special requirements. Hens prefer to lay their eggs under thick grasses or shrubs. Chicks need lots of live food such as small mealworms to get them started off. We have placed week old chicks that were hatched in an incubator with the parents (a 2 heat lamps were set up in holding area as a precaution) and the male readily adopted them. He would brood them at night, show them food and protect them from us! Green food should be an important part of the diet of both adults and young.
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(l to r): 1-2, Kristin Cowell; 3, Myles Lamont; 4-6, Jan Harteman.
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