Sunday, October 17, 2010

To Catch a Wild Guinea Fowl

The other day I noticed Guinea Boy was limping.  I mentioned it to Randy, who also said he noticed it.  He said he had unsuccessfully tried to catch Guinea Boy for the past few nights when he roosted in the pine tree ~ it appeared a small string was caught up on his feet and was limiting his walking, causing him to limp.  We guessed it had only been caught on his feet for around 3 days, based on pictures I took of the guineas.

Guinea Boy before the string got on his feet
So I made it my mission to catch Guinea Boy and remove the string.  It was a Saturday, the weather was warm, I figured this would only take about 30 min or less and then I could get back to my weekend chores.  Randy was busy working around the property with one of his friends, so I didn't bother them.  I figured I'd casually mention to Randy that evening that I removed the string from Guinea Boy's feet after all was said and done.

I armed myself with a couple large dark colored bath towels to throw over the bird when I caught him and a fishing net on a long pole that we use sometimes to chase the young chickens out of the pine tree when they follow the guineas up to roost.  The pole was long and awkward, about 20 feet long.  I marched up to the guineas, put the heavy towels around my neck/shoulders, and awkwardly maneuvered the fishnet towards the guinea flock.  They all took one look at me, screamed bloody murder, and took off running through the woods.  Guinea Boy still limped and had to make small steps, but he was very, very fast!  The chase was on!

Fishing net on 20 foot pole
I ran after them with the net in the air.  When I finally made it to them, they screamed some more and flew away into the woods.  I watched their direction, and worked my way through the woods towards them.  The net got caught on all the branches, I had to maneuver the long pole around trees, making my progress slow.  The towels were hot and heavy around my shoulders.  I passed through thickets of rose vines, which snagged on me and scratched my arms and even my legs through my pants.  I tried to avoid the poison ivy that was everywhere.  

An hour later, I wasn't making any headway. I was still following the flock every time they flew away. Guinea Boy was getting slower with his walking, his legs appeared to be tiring, but his wings were strong, and when he took to the air he flew long distances, easily leaving me behind. I chased the flock into the deep woods, thinking they wouldn't be able to fly in heavy branches and would have to run. Guinea Boy was slowing, separating from the flock when it ran. I had to cross two small historic wire fences, halfway knocked down by deer over the years. I used the towels to put over the fences while I climbed over. The towels came in handy, finally. I didn't want to leave them in the woods even though I hated carrying them.

Another hour of pursuit went on.  I would work my way up to the flock, they would run/fly.  Guinea Boy knew he was tiring of running, so he mostly flew.  He would leave the flock and fly out of my sight, then I'd have to track him through the woods, listening to his chirping.  I knew his call, he sounds different than even the other male guineas.  His voice is deeper than theirs.  He knew all my noise ~ crunching loudly through the dry leaves on the ground around the trees, dragging a long pole behind or above my head, weaving it through the tree branches, cursing when a thorn tore across my arm or ripped my shirt.  He started hiding in the woods and learned to be quiet so I had a really hard time finding his hiding spot.

Another 30 minutes passed.  Guinea Boy was tiring, his walking was very limited now.  He relied mostly on flying, and when he flew he left me in his dust.  I almost caught him many times, throwing the towels over him, just to have him slip away.  I maneuvered the net over him several times, but he snuck out.  Once I had him in my hands, but lost him.  Finally exhausted, I made my way towards the house and found Randy and his friend, asking for help, telling them of my adventures.  I was worn out, sweating, hair going in every direction, scratches all over, pants torn, covered in ticks (I forgot to spray beforehand!).  I figured they could help to corner Guinea Boy.  I led them right to the bird's hiding spot in the woods  ~ he was hidden under a wild thicket of rose bushes with huge thorns everywhere. 

And to my dismay, Randy's friend walked right up to Guinea Boy, disregarded the thorns tearing at his arms and clothes, and he reached down and picked up the tired bird.  I just stood there with my mouth hanging open, feeling foolish.  He made it look so simple!  He didn't even use the towel to throw over the bird, just used his hands.

Guinea Boy this morning with the white guinea hen
Guinea Boy had a horrible string wrapped tightly around both his feet with about 4 inches of play so he could walk.  It was so sad.  He would have eventually died if we didn't remove it.  It was a very long string, wrapping around and around his feet dozens of times.  One toe was just about severed off already, the string was so tight.  I had to cut it off with my small nail scissors ~ it was so tight on his toes no other scissors could cut it.  I hope the bird doesn't lose that one toe.  The guinea flock followed us when we caught their leader and stood around while we worked on his feet.  Then we released him and he limped away with them just as if nothing happened.  Now, a week later, he is no longer limping.  I walked up to about 3 feet from him this morning, and all toes were intact and looked fine.

Good luck, Guinea Boy. 


Chai Chai said...

Wonderful story, I can picture you thrashing around in the woods dragging the pole and towels.

It is so frustrating when animals need help and they try their darnedest to prevent you from doing anything.

Gail said...

What a chase, delightful from my view, but difficult from yours.

Glad it was a success.

Genny said...

Wow! And all I did was get up, make tea, eat some breakfast, and comb out Mimi.

John Gray said...

well done...
I know I would NEVER!!!! EVER!!!! catch my three birds!!!

there is nothing more stressful than chasingbirds!

CeeCee said...

What an adventure.
The buddy just crashing into the thicket and catching Guinea Boy on the first try can be explained with a similar situation---opening a jar of pickles. In this case you 'loosened the guinea for him'. :)
Hope you didn't get an poison ivy!

Verde Farm said...

What a great story! Yay for Guinea Boy!! He is lucky to have a mama that cares enought o go through all that to save his wonderful life. That makes me so happy :)

DebH said... had me in stitches...I did the same thing with one of mine. But I waited until dark and they were roosting. I caught him pretty easily, (lucky there) but I understand the string severe is impressive that they can become so tangled. Poor thing though, I fret terribly when one has found themselves in that same state. Good thing you have that determined to fix it attitude....Good for you!! and Good for hin!! Your a gem!

Robin said...

What a funny story. You had me smiling as I read it. I'm glad that you were able to get the string off his foot. Do you really get coated in ticks when you walk in the woods? I would be freaking out as I HATE ticks.

Knatolee said...

Poor guy, I hope he heals up just fine. These things happen!

And the only reason he got caught by Randy's friend was because YOU did such a great job of wearing him out first! :)

Terry said...

So glad Guinea Boy is going to be fine - hope you recover too!

Razzberry Corner said...

Chai Chai - Yes, it seems sometimes animals will try their hardest to prevent us from helping them. But once we caught Guinea Boy and starting working on his feet, he didn't fight one bit.

Gail - I am so glad Guinea Boy will be ok. He's a survivor!

Genny - Sometimes it can be a challenge to comb out a long-haired cat, can't it? My mom has one that tries to bite me when I comb him!

John Gray - I now agree, there is nothing more stressful! But it was a good workout for me!

CeeCee - Surprisingly, I didn't get poison ivy. I don't seem to get poison ivy much, luckily. That's funny because once I was visiting Colorado and got poison oak SO VERY BADLY all over my feet. I couldn't wear shoes for days! Maybe that experience built up my immunity to poison plants???

Amy - I think most of us would do this for one of their animals, don't you? I hate to see anything or anyone suffer.

DebH - We wanted to catch the guinea when he was roosting, but he flies so far up the pine tree at night there's no way to get to him. the pine tree is at least a hundred years old and is huge. The guineas fly way, way, up. That would have been too easy for me to catch him while he was roosting, now, anyway!

Robin - I hate ticks, too! The deer ticks are so tiny, almost impossible to see. And the bigger dog ticks freak me out more, because they are bigger! Once I was piking blackberries and after an hour or so found out the blackberries had hundreds of huge deer ticks in them! And I had dozens of ticks on me. I lost it - I threw out all the blackberries I picked and haven't been able to enjoy blackberries the same since then. Visions of those huge ticks on me are now associated with blackberries!!! Ugh!

Knatolee - That's what Randy said, that I wore him out first. I fig he was just trying to make me feel not so useless!!

Terry - it was good exercise for me. I've been trying to run every day, so I didn't have to go running that day! :D


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