The Helmeted Guineafowl is an African family of insect and seed-eating, ground-nesting birds resembling partridges, but with featherless heads and spangled grey plumage. The species has been domesticated and introduced outside its natural range, for example in southern France and the West Indies.
It is interesting to note that they are monogamous, mating for life. The hens have a habit of hiding their nests, and sharing it with other hens until large numbers of eggs have accumulated. Females lay 25-30 tough skined, smallish, creamy eggs in a deep, tapering nest and undergo an incubation period of 26-28 days. The chicks are called "keets" and are highly susceptible to damp. In fact, they can die from following the mother through dewy grass. After their first two to six weeks of growth, they can be some of the hardiest domestic land fowl. Sexing the birds is not as simple as telling a rooster from a hen chicken. When they are adults, the helmet and wattles of the male are larger than those of the female, and only the female makes the two-note cry "Buck-wheat!" Aside from that, however, the two sexes are mostly identical in appearance.
As domestics, guineas are valuable pest controllers, eating many insects. They are especially beneficial in controlling the lyme disease-carrying deer tick, as well as wasp nests. While they are rarely kept in large numbers, a few are sometimes kept with other fowl to be used as a security system against birds of prey. They will call with their loud, high shrieking voices if concerned about intruders. They are highly social birds, and hate to be alone.