I had 3 guineas: Penny, Marcia, and Kelly. Being game birds, they tend to be very high-strung, even as chicks. Their basic reaction when anyone got within a couple of feet was to run away and if I needed to corral them for any reason, they behaved like I was going to rend them limb from limb. Drama queens, one and all.
Even so, I became fond of them. They eat bugs. They are funny to watch. You can get them to respond to food (in our case, Japanese beetles). And they lay a surprisingly crazy amount of eggs!
Because the girls look so much alike, I was never able to tell them apart. There seemed to be one that was the “odd man out,” so much so that I thought I had a mated pair for a while. To be fair, because I couldn’t tell them apart, maybe their roles in their little group changed from time to time. I am assuming it was always the same guinea that was slightly apart.
And one of the girls seemed especially “challenged.” She could never figure things out. Again, I’m assuming it’s the same guinea and that she was also the odd man out.
Last winter, we had an escape from the hoop house, where the flock was wintered. You can click through to their Polar Vortex Adventures here. You think that would have nudged me to get a bird net. But no, not me. I thought I had it all figured out after that little escapade — not!
Just before the storms starting hitting New England with a vengeance, I prepped the coop; basically I covered almost all of it with plastic. (Normally, we winter the flock in the hoop house. Unfortunately, we lost it early in the season with a snow fall of particularly heavy, wet snow and just have not been able to repair it yet. So the flock was stuck in the summer coop this winter.)
I did not close the front door of the coop as I felt our security was good (lights and radio) and have not had problems since the fisher cat incident. I made a little ‘tunnel’ at the entrance with some fencing and plastic. While it’s a pain to get in and out, I am able to water the flock twice a day and keep them fed. They definitely are getting fresh air and with the insulating snow 5 to 6 feet up the sides of the coop, it tends to stay reasonable temperatures in there, even with the opening.
Now that you have all the background… here’s the adventures:
I went out to refresh the water (it does freeze and I like my girls to be hydrated) and saw a guinea on the fence of the pen. I tried to knock her in the snow since it would make her easier to catch. Instead, I freaked her out and she flew to a tree. See? I should have had that net!
She spent the next five-six days moving from tree to tree. After about 5 days, I was able to reach some blocks in the yard (keep in mind the snow is up to my hips by now) and put some food on it. My hope was that if she could at least eat, and stay in the trees, she may survive until she could figure out how to get back in the coop.
Sadly, when I went out the next day, I saw feathers, the food, but no tracks. And no guinea talking from the trees. Even the flock was silent. Near as I can figure, she tried to eat and got caught by an air predator. I’m sad, but not surprised. Guineas are tough, though. She made it that long without food or water and through at least one of the storms.
Then a couple of days later, I’m putting Snoop out, at 5 a.m. and see a dark lump in the path. Getting the flashlight, I see it’s a guinea! My first thought is “it is lost girl!” I quickly run outside (after putting on boots, coat, gloves, etc. — it’s cold!) and walk up slowly to her. She doesn’t move. She’s sitting in the path, on the snow. And while cold, it did keep her out of the wind. I pick her up. No movement, no sound, and no drama.
My first thought is she must be really cold to let me approach her and pick her up like that so I need to get her warm. I bring her in the house and while I’m running around setting up a dog crate, lining it with paper, and putting her in it, she doesn’t make a sound or try to get away. This from a bird that talks in her sleep and is scared of humans.
Unfortunately, it’s not the lost girl but I am SO glad I found her. I put the crate in the warmest spot in the house with food and water and kept her in for a day and a half before putting her back out. I knew she was good when she was talking and hiding from me (well trying to hide).
So I’m down to two guineas instead of three. The flock is doing well enough, even trapped in the coop. Now if only the snow would go away…