Fowl play
December 25, 2011 5:39 PM   Subscribe

Any advice on catching a guinea fowl? This is a small-turkey-sized, semi-flighted bird that really, really doesn't want to be caught.

There's a guinea fowl that's been hanging around the industrial area near a clinic where my significant other volunteers. It's been there a couple of months, alone, nowhere near any type of farm, house or caretaker. Since it's gotten cold, various people have been feeding it, but my SO and I are hoping to catch it and relocate it to a nearby farm animal sanctuary. We've tried once already and came nowhere near the bird, let alone near enough to catch it. We had a bath towel to throw over it, a large net, a large pet carrier and a mirror. (I read online that guinea fowls enjoy admiring themselves in mirrors, but apparently this guinea doesn't give a shit about what it looks like.)

Part of the problem is that we were in a very open area, and the bird would start flying as soon as either of us made any sort of move to throw a towel over it or what have you. There is a fairly busy road nearby, and I was worried we'd chase the bird into traffic. Most of what I read online concerning how to catch birds such as these suggests constructing makeshift pens, which obviously is not an option for us.

Any suggestions?
posted by indognito to Pets & Animals (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This may be the eggnog talking, but man, I love Metafilter. Guinea fowl? Where else?

Ok. Sorry. Off topic.

I would use a fine mesh net, like my mother uses to keep the deer out of her yard. Very fine. But don't use it to throw over the bird; instead, chase the bird into the net (I think it's cheap. Buy a lot). Or get like 30 friends or strangers (and who wouldn't help a stranger catch a Guinea fowl?) and corral the bird with said net.
posted by bexpert at 6:24 PM on December 25, 2011

If you can tail it in the evening and find out where it roosts, you may be able to net it at night.

Good luck. They can be ornery ol' birds.
posted by BlueHorse at 6:42 PM on December 25, 2011

Ask the local animal control for a humane trap. Bait it with something a guinea fowl might like.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 6:53 PM on December 25, 2011

I am a birdherder but I'm not your birdherder and this is not birdherding advice... If the bird is getting fed it will less wild but still not easy to catch. Ideally the bird should be relocated to a better environment, but unless you have an arsenal of tools like animal control at your disposal, you're not going to catch it. You could talk to a vet and get some sort of sedative that you can spike the food with and it would be easy to net the sedated bird and get it somewhere else.
posted by birdherder at 6:54 PM on December 25, 2011 [2 favorites]

Find a wild bird recue in your area and call them up. They might have some good advice and even know the area habitat well enough to advise where it should go. I knew one that would even come help you in person if they could (rescue folks often are over-stretched for time and money)
posted by bebrave! at 7:34 PM on December 25, 2011

When we had guineas they would only fly if you went towards them quickly enough to frighten them. To catch them we would try to walk them slowly into some kind of dead end and then get the net on them before they realized they were trapped.

At times it was take a step, then wait to see which way the guinea would start to walk, then take a step the other way to try to "aim" it where you wanted it to go (the bird will be over 10 feet away while you are doing this). You definitely need patience - if you go too fast and spook them you might not get another chance that day.

Also, it is better to try this around twilight when they start to creep home to their roost.
posted by rfs at 8:11 PM on December 25, 2011

What about a quail trap? Caveat: I accidentally caught a bobcat in one. He was not pleased.
posted by kamikazegopher at 9:09 PM on December 25, 2011 [5 favorites]

I immediately thought of Roald Dahl's book Danny Champion of the World and the methods described therein for poaching pheasants. I have no idea of they would work on guinea fowl, but I loved that book as a child and me being me, would start with that.

Note: the final solution involves using sleeping pills which I do not advocate since you don't know what dose to give a guinea fowl and the intention is to keep this bird alive. However I would love trying the sticky hat method or horsehair raisin method to see if they worked.
posted by HMSSM at 9:25 PM on December 25, 2011

Probably best to let a pro handle it, birds that size can be surprisingly strong and claw-y.

If you have heavy gloves and are confident you can handle it without harming it the canonical way to capture such a beast would be to chase it into a mist net/dho gaza.
posted by Matt Oneiros at 9:34 PM on December 25, 2011

BTW, guinea fowl walk around a lot, but they can fly, with their large, powerful wings. This is how they get up into trees to roost at night. I've seen one fly 15 feet nearly vertically in a couple of seconds. This gives them a sharp advantage over approaching humans.
posted by exphysicist345 at 10:55 PM on December 25, 2011

would a guineafowl fit in a havahart trap?
posted by ArgentCorvid at 6:52 AM on December 26, 2011

Call your local wildlife rescue/animal control; one may lend you a trap OF THE RIGHT SIZE. Too small, and they either won't walk in or could get hurt when the trap closes. Conceal the cage wire floor lightly with some dead leaves or similar; put tasty food inside. Or perhaps the rescue may have experienced bird-wrangling volunteers who can help, with nets and moveable barricades.

My animal rescuer friends have been able to attract strayed/lost birds into capture-friendly situations sometimes by using an audio recording of the same species. Youtube is your friend!

An actual bird of the same species will often work well too. I recapture my escaped-during-cage-cleaning quail by putting one of the opposite sex in a cage-inside-a-cage on the floor level. Similarly, strange budgies sometimes show up and cling to the porch screen while my guys are taking the air.

Note of caution: if you try to trap the bird, monitor the trap. It will be very vulnerable to temperature and predators, some of which can reach it through the trap bars.
posted by theplotchickens at 8:39 AM on December 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

Guineas return to a single roost each night. If you can figure out where this bird is heading each evening, you may be able to set up a little coop-like box or cage (with a roost or two) nearby and lure him/her in with cracked corn at dusk. This would probably not be an overnight project - you'd probably need some patience to get the guinea aware of the corn and comfortable near the coop.

Another strange thing with guineas is that they adore looking at their reflection. If you do set up a humane trap of some kind, you may want to bait it with a mirror at the back.
posted by muirne81 at 10:26 AM on December 26, 2011

Also, this fellow lays out a method for training guinea fowl to come when called using millet.
posted by muirne81 at 10:32 AM on December 26, 2011

Thank you everyone for your responses!

birdherder--what a perfect name for this question. (theplotchickens isn't too far off, either.)

I'll update you all if and when I'm able to catch this bird.
posted by indognito at 4:11 PM on December 26, 2011

Update: I don't know how useful this will be to anyone trying to catch a guinea in any traditional type of setting, but we were finally able to catch the bird this morning. The weather's been super-cold here, and the guinea had taken to spending the day in a cat carrier someone had left in the bushes for it, and I was able to sneak up and slam the door shut, then transport it to the animal sanctuary (and a rather smelly journey it was). So: yay! And the trick to catching a guinea is apparently cold weather+cat carrier.
posted by indognito at 7:55 AM on January 14, 2012

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