Fowl Murder is so named because one meaning of ‘Kanga’ in the Kenya Kanga Mystery Series is ‘guinea fowl’.
The guinea fowl’s distinctive black feathers with white dots is beloved by artists and designers in Kenya, who paint it on products from scarves, to napkins to teapots. I have used it in the logo for my publishing imprint, Kanga Press.
The guinea fowl is a hardy, medium sized bird which has adapted to living in jungles, forests, grasslands, scrublands and savannah areas.
In Kenya I only saw the vulture or bald-head guinea fowl whilst on safari in conservation areas, but the red-wattle helmet guinea fowl and blue-wattle helmet guinea fowl can be seen in domestic settings.
At my boy’s school a flock of red-wattle helmet guinea fowl (at least my son says they were red although I thought they were blue helmeted) slept in a tree near the school entrance. They roamed around the school during the day, pecking at the ground for worms, insects, seeds, roots and grains. They also eat ticks which is excellent news as an increasing number of my friends have developed Lyme Disease, often carried by ticks.
Guinea fowl have loud shrieking voices which they use to great affect when they spot an intruder, whether it is a human, an animal or a snake. This is extremely useful and why many Kenyan villages encourage guinea fowl to live there.
If you want to know more, here are some interesting guinea fowl facts:-
- Guinea fowl are medium sized birds, which can reach 16 to 28 inches in length and 1.5 to 3.5 pounds of weight.
- Guinea fowl have bare heads and necks while the rest of their bodies are covered with dark grey or black feathers with small white dots.
- Guinea fowls are social animals that live and roost in smaller or larger flocks. They walk in a single line and imitate behaviour of the leader of the group.
- Guinea fowl are strong flyers, but they prefer to run when they need to escape from predators.
- Their natural enemies are wild cats, wolves, snakes, crocodiles and humans.
- Mating season takes place at the end of the rainy season.
- Guinea fowl are monogamous birds, forming couples which can last a lifetime or a mating season.
- Females lay 8 to 15 eggs that hatch after incubation of 24 to 30 days.
- Guinea fowl can survive 10 to 20 years in the wild.