The City Magazine Since 1975

Fowl Play

October 2018
Fowl Play
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Delving into the mystery of the Lamboll Street guineas

The flock of 10 guinea fowl perch atop garden walls, roost in trees, and stroll brazenly across South of Broad streets.

It was around Christmas seven years ago when Lois Lane, a Lamboll Street resident and real estate agent, first remembers seeing the guinea fowl—small, speckled, and screeching. “Out of the blue, two appeared,” she says. Two quickly turned to five, which grew to eight, which swelled to 10. At last check, a couple clutches of eggs had been spotted in the neighborhood; yet how or why the original pair showed up in the first place is anyone’s guess.

Residents have their own hypotheses. One is that the birds were dropped off on the upper-crust avenue, perhaps as part of some strange gag. But if that’s the case, claims Lane, the joke’s on the jester, because the neighbors love them.

Guinea fowl know good real estate when they see it. The pair who enigmatically moved in South of Broad on a winter day in 2011 couldn’t have picked a finer place to raise their offspring—including the teenager (left) loitering here in a Lamboll Street garden.

“We really try to protect them, feeding them and fretting over them,” she says. One woman even bought an incubator to protect freshly laid eggs, but “We soon learned we had to let Mother Nature take her course,” Lane notes. The ground-nesting birds can fly, but their mad flapping looks much like early attempts by the Wright Brothers, so they tend to roam on foot across Lamboll, up King, and sometimes as far as South Battery, often halting traffic—not to mention camera-wielding passersby.

Lois Lane (left) is among the neighbors who offer chicken scratch to augment the diet of beetles, ants, and grasshoppers that these farm animals typically keep.

The species, which originated in West Africa, feasts on beetles, fleas, grasshoppers, and crickets, and farmers consider them extraordinary exterminators. But they’ve also long been prized as delicious game birds and are a growing commodity in the United States. You can rest assured, however, that the South of Broad confusion (as a flock of guineas is called) won’t be coming to a table near you.