We had chickens when I was kid. But the neighbors had chickens, turkeys, and guinea fowl.

Recently, neighbors on our road added guinea fowl to their flock. I had forgotten about the funny, little, black-and-white speckled birds. Not to mention the racket they make! Three of them moved in with the family in the next house down the road. I think they originated elsewhere, but decided they liked Chuck’s yard better. Which means I see them regularly when Thistle and I take our morning constitutional.

Like little grey grandmothers in baggy dresses, they scuttle around the yard cackling and squawking like they need a good dose of WD-40. Chuck says they follow him around as he stacks firewood, putters in the yard, and maintains his lawn cutting equipment. They’re talkative, chattering and murmuring unless disturbed then they launch into full on screeching.

There are guinea fowl on opposite sides of the valley now. It’s not uncommon for those on the east side to become alarmed and set off the ones on the west side. Which then escalates the ones on the east and so on until I assume coyotes must be slaughtering the whole bunch.

But there’s just something about them that charms me. Maybe it’s their independent streak or the way they’ll rush a full grown dog as if they can take him down. Maybe they can. Here are a few things to know if you decide to jump on the backyard coop wave and get some guineas.

  • Did I mention they’re loud? Some folks say the females sound like they’re chattering, “come back, come back,” while the males say, “chi, chi, chi.” Regardless, they talk unless they’re sleeping. Kind of like toddlers.
  • They eat ticks! And other creepy crawly pests. They provide excellent yard and garden pest control. That alone is almost enough reason for me to get some.
  • They’re also alleged to keep snakes away. Hey, with copperheads and timber rattlers I’d say that’s worth a shot!
  • They’re an excellent alarm system. Of course, they’re also a pretty great false alarm system, so take that into account.
  • They’re super independent which means you have to train them to understand where home is or they’ll just move in wherever they take a notion. And they can actually fly not to mention run surprisingly fast for being such roly poly little birds.
  • They’re funny. If you don’t believe me, look up some videos. There’s just something about a guinea fowl that will make you laugh. And hey, we all need a good laugh these days.