08 July 2024

Helmeted Guineafowl – Wadi Jizan Dam Lake

Whilst birding Wadi Jizan Dam Lake very early morning 16 June Phil Roberts and I came across a group of up to eight Helmeted Guineafowl Numida Meleagris feeding on a grassy area near the lake shore. The birds were later heard calling in a nearby area of thick scrub and trees. The species is a widespread breeding bird in sub-Saharan Africa (formerly also in northern Africa). Outside Africa, it is a rare breeding resident in the Asir Tihama in south-western Saudi Arabia and (possibly) in Yemen. The birds in Saudi Arabia appear to be small and dark blackish coloured and have a thick reddish bill with pale tip, small helmet, medium sized cere bristles, limited blue skin and completely blue roundish wattles. The helmet appears smaller than on any other subspecies. Despite the morphological differences noted above compared with African populations, the Arabian population has not formally been named as a subspecies, but it is possible/probable the Arabian birds belong to a different, as yet undescribed subspecies.