Sunday afternoon something did go wrong. A big black-and-white cat that's been visiting the yard lately apparently made a play for the chick. I heard the hen screaming from inside the house, and when I went out the cat ran off, the hen was nowhere to be seen, and the chick was on a fairly high branch of a Manitoba maple at the edge of the yard. A little later I did see the hen, but she seemed to be heading in the wrong direction for finding the chick. I didn't see a reunion, and didn't see the pair all day Monday, so I worried that the chick was on its own, and still too young to cope. This morning they both showed up--looking none the worse for wear.
Because these birds visit the yard so often they are seen by most people who visit the house. As a result we've been hearing lots of Guinea-fowl lore.
Guinea fowl are a good addition to the chicken yard because they scream when there's trouble, and because they watch the sky for hawks. Guinea fowl are bad in traffic, tend to get hit by cars. Guinea fowl are prone to go walkabout. One person told of getting a pair of these birds, opening the hen house door, and watching them fly away, never to be seen again.
It's the walkabout trait that interests me. This is a popular bird among hobby farmers. It also enjoyed some vogue as a defence against deer ticks in areas where Lyme's disease is a problem. So there have been lots around in Ontario and the American northeast. And yet, as far as I can tell, there is no wild (feral) population in my region. The BC coast does seem to be home to feral flocks, and there are rumours of flocks in Nova Scotia, but both have milder climates than we do here.
So I don't believe that my friends will succeed in establishing a wild population here. And I don't think the hen will lead the chick back to her original home for the winter. There's been fierce enough weather already that if that seemed like a good idea to her she'd have already done it. Some breeder information I've seen suggests that to raise these birds the best thing to do is take the chicks to be raised by a bird of another species, since the Guinea fowl is a wanderer. I like the idea that this hen is living the kind of life she prefers, however it turns out.