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Mean Guineas

Nice Guineas

By Brian Angevine and

Trudy Ringer

Illustrated by Tara Birdsall

 

            Guineas are funny birds kind of like a short chicken or a small turkey. We like to watch them as the scurry around looking for bugs and seeds on the ground. Their squawk is so loud it might hurt your ears and they really make a fuss when a stranger is near. We keep them here because they eat ticks which might bite us and scare away poisonous snakes like copperheads and rattlesnakes.

            Guineas are tough birds when they stay with the flock, but when one is alone it might get eaten by dogs or coyotes. Hawks and owls might steal a guinea if it gets too far from the group. So it is a good idea for guineas to stay together in a big flock.

            The trouble is that guineas sometimes pick on one of the smaller birds or one of a different color. Most of our guineas are colored like pearl gray. We have one white one that is very little. It does not seem to be getting big very fast and might always be the smallest one in the flock. Three of the birds are purple which makes them look much darker than the pearl gray ones.

            For some reason the biggest pearl guineas don’t like the smallest purple one. They chase her away from all the food and try to make him leave the flock. She has to run away from the big bullies all the time. We hope that some other animal does not catch her and she tries to stay close enough to be protected by the flock.

            The big birds also chase one of the small pearl gray guineas. Maybe there is something wrong with the smaller birds. Sometimes animals try to chase away the weakest member of the group because they don’t want it around. They want all the food for themselves and want to get rid of the smallest, weakest bird. Or sometimes they chase away a sick animal so it won’t make the rest of the group sick.

            People are sometimes mean like that too. Have you ever been chased away by someone bigger than you? It doesn’t feel very good. Maybe when you get bigger people will be nicer to you.

            How can we teach the guineas to be nice to the three birds they don’t like? Would it help to feed the smaller birds someplace by themselves until they get big enough to stay with the flock? Do you think if they were the same color as the other birds they would be liked more?

            Remember that the big birds don’t like one of the smaller birds that is the same color. The big birds accept the other big birds that are a different color. Why do you think they don’t like the small purple guinea and the small gray guinea? They seem to like the small white guinea but not the others.

            Everyone would be safer if they all liked each other and stayed together. The guineas would all get bigger and stronger if they shared all of their food and helped the smaller ones find better food.

            Maybe the guineas will get along better someday. Maybe people will get along better some day. People and guineas need to be nice to each other.