Another guinea update, this time on the wild ones, the born in the garden family. As we left off, there were 9 new babies or keets, little puff balls, not even tall enough to be seen over mown grass. I decided to not try and catch them and put them in a safer place. Within the first week, a night visitor found the mother and babies, killing and eating 5 little ones. The mother lost a fair share of feathers, but seemed fine. I was alerted by the males squawking and ran out with a flashlight (at 3 AM), which probably saved the remaining 4 and mom. The 6 male guineas sleep in a tree next to the garden and listen for intruders. I have learned that they are basically blind at night, even with the aid of a flashlight, they can't see. But clearly they hear well.
The next night mom and babies switched locations, moving to an overgrown, scruffy area where she could hide with the remaining babies. I've noticed that they're pretty good at moving after an attack. Smarter than people think.
The ritual every evening is the same. The 6 males escort mom and little ones to the edge of the overgrown area and wait for her to bed down, babies beneath her. Then they fly up into their tree to spend the night. As fathers go, they have been amazing, traveling as a flock all day, watching for hawks and furry carnivores as they eat seeds and bugs.
It's been 3 weeks since they hatched and 2 days ago a hawk killed the only pearl colored keet left. Now we're down to 3. Even though these babies are still very small, they practice flying with little sprints up into the air. I guess you would call them fledglings, even though they hardly ever fly.
Today there was a big commotion and I ran down to find a red fox under the chicken coop, guineas screaming away and the 3 little ones up on the roof. I let out my most powerful wild banshee scream, one that may have had the neighbors calling 911, fortunately or unfortunately the neighbors are pretty far away. They probably never heard me. The fox certainly did, I made damn sure of that.
So tonight I worry. Foxes don't quit. But the good news, tonight the little keets have managed to fly up into the tree with their dads and mom. I don't know how their little feet can hold on, but they're safer up there. As long as the owls stay away.
A little update on the others that we incubated: there were 8, now 7. Another pearl was found dead one morning, almost like the others pecked it. They are locked up and safe. When it comes time to introduce them to the other tribe, there will be days and days of fighting over dominance. They will not be recognized as relatives, even though they are. The adjustment will be tough. Did I make the right decision to leave the others? They seem so well adjusted with their family, I think I did, even if 9 are now 3. Time will tell.