Friday, December 19, 2008
The Guinea Fowl Chronicles, Ms Bo's Beau...
Ms Bo, it seems, in addition to her usual entourage, has a beau. Well, he’s either that or he’s appointed himself as part time Father Protector. He’s a lone male guinea, whose mate died last year, after she’d been in some kind of accident that had partially severed her leg. We’d have caught her and taken her for treatment if we could have, but she was far too traumatised. The hen’s leg finally fell off and she and her mate pretty much lived in the safety of the garden for a few months before she disappeared. He spent weeks wandering around aimlessly and is now a daily visitor to the garden and seems to have become quite attached to Ms Bo.
Last week I discovered that on top of the black and rufous-chested sparrowhawks and the neighbourhood cats, Ms Bo has an additional predator to worry about – a black headed heron. Herons will evidently munch anything up to the size of a dove. Since Ms Bo appears to be a dwarf guinea fowl, she’d make a suitable snack. Father Protector aka The Beau, happened to be in the garden the day the heron appeared. Up he went on his toes, spread out his wings and flapped them vigorously. Of course, the heron just ignored him, until Father Protector proceeded to herd the lurking beast away from Bo’s cage.
Ms Bo also has another guinea couple who just don’t seem to know what to make of her. They have hung out in the garden for the past few months – and now that Bo’s family are infrequent visitors the Guinea Couple hang around her cage most of the day, the hen constantly pecking at Bo through the mesh. This morning they were both lying at her cage, waiting for her to be brought out and have subsequently spent the last couple of hours obsessing over her. I do honestly wish I spoke better Guinea so I could make the necessary enquiries!
As for Ms Bo…well, she remains a Very Small Bird. Her siblings, who occasionally come to visit, are now huge. They’ve got their iron-grey spotted feathers and you can see the beginnings of their combs. The size difference is simply absurd. The curious thing is that Ms Bo seems just fine. She eats like a ravening horde, pootles around her cage, chats to herself and remains decidedly feisty of spirit. D is convinced she’s growing, just very slowly - I think he’s being optimistic. Our zoologist friend just reckons she’s a “dwarf”. Personally, I’m still hoping for a last minute growth spurt, but I suspect I may be being optimistic too.
This weekend Villa Beau Bo aka the Peep Palace will be getting an extension, so Bo will have still more space in which to shout the odds. Meanwhile, our mealworm cultivation project having proved to be a disaster and earthworms containing too high a tannin content, D is now cultivating maggots. I know, don’t ask. Still we have discovered that maggots make a fine meal for a small bird – and I think they’re probably better than some of the bugs I’ve been finding for her. I mean, for heaven’s sake, last week I had to stick my finger into her mouth to dislodge a bug that she’d snarfed down too rapidly. I would really prefer not to have to do that again. It’s bad enough trundling down to the greenbelt at the end of the road with a net and collecting box to harvest grasshoppers and having people look at us askance and ask, “Um, exactly what are you doing?” Ah well, eccentric is as eccentric does, I guess, and we have a guinea chick to rear.