Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Guinea Wattle Myth

Guineas can be really hard to tell apart. The males and females look almost exactly alike. If they are the same age, the males can be distinguished by their 'horns'. (it's actually bone, part of the skull which grows as they mature) The males 'horn'  is typically larger then the female, however it can be hard to tell the difference between older females and younger males. I've heard several theories on how to tell them apart. The females tail makes a 'hump', the boys are smooth. The girls have fluffier skirts so they can brood keets. The boys have pointed feathers, the girls have rounded feathers. Etc etc. 

The only theory that I've heard that even comes close to being accurate is the one about their wattles. Both male and female guineas have rather prominent wattles. This theory says that the females have small wattles that point backwards, like the white female guinea in the top picture.

Telling guineas apart

The males are said to have larger wattles that fold over and point down, like the male pied Guinea in the center. Obviously, this sometimes holds true. There seems to be a good amount of Guineas that look like the third picture though. As you can see, one wattle is small and points backwards, the other is larger and folds over and points down.

Now, I'm not trying to break this theory wide open because after all, I don't have a definitive answer. I do know that the majority of Guineas I have like with 2 different wattles are female. They do lay eggs. I have hatched their eggs with no problem. I've often wondered if there was some genetic issue, but they have been as healthy as any other Guinea and lived just as long. (While the Guineas in the pictures are different colors, color isn't relevant they just happened to be the only ones that wanted to stand still for me today!) Honestly, I'm not sure what's going on and I'm pretty sure it really doesn't matter unless you're using this theory to purchase birds, in which case I wouldn't rely completely on this method. 

The only method you can rely on is the 'buck-wheat' test. The female makes a 2 syllable call that sounds like she's screaming (and I do mean SCREAMING) 'buck-wheat buck-wheat'. The male call is a 1 syllable call which sorta sounds like 'chi chi chi' and isn't quite as loud. Usually. Here's where it gets difficult....the female can make both calls, the male cannot. So, a 'chi chi chi' doesn't always mean you have a male, but a 'buck-wheat' always means a female. Luckily, I've got it on video for you.





~L 
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8 comments:

  1. As long as the guineas know the difference, that's what counts! Great post.

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  2. Either way, they are pretty birds...even if they are loud!

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  3. Loud isn't the word for it. LOL
    Those things almost never shut up. I've heard my guineas making their stupid
    "NAG NAG NAG!" in the middle of the night.
    I was told that the way to tell the difference is that the males only make a 1 syllable noise that sounds like "Buck" and that the females make the 2 syllable noise that sounds like "Buck Wheat." But when you have 17 of them going off at the same time, good luck trying to figure out who sounds like what.

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    Replies
    1. I agree that the sound is the best way to distinguish them apart. My son can tell by the sound that it makes if its a boy or girl. I have no idea so I depend on him. He's 8. He has about 30 guineas right now and he loves them. He knows, though, who hangs out with who and who is boyfriend or girlfriend with who. It's amazing to me!!!

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    2. Yup, that is about the only way to definitely tell them apart. The female can make the male noise, but the males can't make the females noise. We have over 50 of them and boy does it get loud here! lol

      ~L

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  4. Really interesting I had not idea. Would love you to share this on my Permanent Resource Guide for Guinea's: http://www.backyardfarmingconnection.com/2013/01/raising-other-backyard-birds-quail.html

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    Replies
    1. Sure thing. I'll do that right now, thanks!

      ~L

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