I was planning on showing you flying lessons pics today, but flying appears to have come to no good. What I mean is that on Monday there were 13 or 14 guinea fowl chicks. Now there are three. I cannot for the life of me believe that the adult flock has managed to lose literally all their chicks overnight. I’m hoping that perhaps the flock have split up but I’m thinking that might be a frail sort of hope.
On Tuesday there were about seven chicks. On Tuesday night only Bo and her sibling Mo’ (as in Mo’ Peep ie More Peep) were in the garden. A hellish and very unseasonable storm was brewing. The temperatures had plummeted and the wind was howling. We wondered if we should try and catch Bo and Mo’ but decided nature should be left to take its course… The rest of the guineas had leapt the wall by then and these two were left all alone to find a place to sleep on the ground. By Wednesday morning I heard Mo’ in the driveway, but when I tried to find him, he ducked away, never to be seen again. Meanwhile, another chick fluttered out of the trees from seemingly nowhere and joined little Bo. It was pissing with rain, freezing cold and the garden was sodden – and not an adult guinea was anywhere to be seen. Two adult stragglers who appeared in the garden were totally soaked and miserable and I didn’t think there was much hope of Bo or the other chick surviving without adult attention – or human intervention. See, here’s the thing about Lil’ Bo, she just isn’t very big. The other chicks from the same hatch are two to three times her size, and although she is strong in spirit, size-wise, she’s just not making it.
I decided, having splashed around the garden for a couple of hours, that it was time to get involved. Left on her own, unable to fly, she would just not survive. I called D at work and asked him to come home and help with Operation Bo.
We eventually cornered her behind some planters and put her and Gilbert in a box. Literally five minutes later, the adult flock appeared with the princely number of two chicks - two, out of the original fourteen that had been around on Monday. They managed to round up the third chick, who, by force of necessity had learnt its wings but who was cold and shivering and who kept trying to huddle under an adult for warmth, only to have the adults walk away.
When D came home from work he was carrying a large guinea pig pen. Guinea pigs, guinea fowls… It’s about a meter square and 47 cms high. We laid down paper, warmed up Gilbert, put in a small towel, food, water and a few logs and popped Bo into her new abode and covered the pen with towels and left her to it.
The guinea pig pen, Bo's temporary sheltered accommodation, which now fills up most of the sunroom...
The idea is that as soon as the weather improves and Bo has found her wings, we’ll let her go. The poor mite is not very happy being caged and I don’t blame her but until she can fly off with the adults and roost in trees she stands little hope of survival. Of course, this assumes the adults will come back for her – they may, they may not. They were here this morning, with three chicks. They ate, huddled, scratched in the ground a bit and then left. I’m hoping that if they return regularly, I can eventually let her out when they’re here. They seem to “know” she’s here, they can hear her plaintive peeping and she obviously knows there’s a whole world out there.
I hate having intervened, I’d prefer for nature to take its course but this little bird is quite unique. Aside from being so tiny, she is very feisty and yet stoic. She’s a free soul and has a strong spirit. She’s often scuttled around the garden alone, unconcerned when the rest of her flock have mooched on to another corner. I don’t know if we’ve done the right thing, I don’t know how long my head will survive the plaintive peeping and the sight of this small creature so desperate for her freedom, no matter the cost. I’m hoping that long term interests will win out ultimately over short term concerns and that Bo will have her freedom and reach adulthood. One can but try, I guess.