Vulturine Guineafowl

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A group of vulturine guineafowl (Acryllium vulturinum) screams at me vehemently just a few feet away. These birds are one of the most striking and most common birds at Mpala. They travel in groups of up to over 30 individuals, foraging on plant matter and small arthropods. Vulturine guineafowl also have unique fission-fusion dynamics. They are the only guineafowl species known to fully integrate between groups without conflict, later separating back into the two original groups with identical membership. Usually in such a scenario, intergroup conflict arises due to competition for space and resources. What is so appealing about the guineafowl to me, other than their colorful blue plumage and behavior, is their alarm call. Every day we hear them making their high-pitched and reverberent motor-like call in response to our presence. Usually one guineafowl begins and is joined by the masses. At close range it’s incredible just how much sound is produced; my ears are sometimes left ringing. Although unrelated to vultures, vulturine guineafowl are so named because of their naked grey heads and curved beaks. Being mostly terrestrial with large feet and bright red piercing eyes, it’s easy to see them as dinosaurs. Here we call them velociraptors.

Photographed after slight disturbance [2]

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