If you’ve seen a bird that looks like a chicken and want to know what it’s called, I think I can help.
It’s not an easy question to answer without seeing the bird that you saw.
There are a few birds that are known to look like chickens, as well as some unusual-looking chicken breeds that look like birds!
But more often than not, I find people have seen a Guinea Fowl when they’re talking about seeing a bird that looked and acted like a chicken.
What Are Guinea Fowl?
Guinea Fowl, which are also called “pet speckled hens” sometimes, are birds belonging to the Galliformes order.
This means they’re related to chickens, turkeys, quails, and a bunch of other landfowl.
Hence why they behave a lot like chickens, but Guinea fowl is not a breed of chicken and they are different in a lot of ways.
Guinea fowl are endemic to Africa, where they still roam freely in the wild and are believed to be one of the oldest gallinaceous birds.
They’re commonly found all over the world today and are also kept as backyard pets in most countries.
Related - Seen a duck that looks like a chicken? I bet it’s a Muscovy!
Is Guinea Fowl a Chicken?
Guinea fowl are not chickens, they’re a different species of bird.
They’re from the same Order as chickens, which is the Galliformes Order, but Guinea fowl is not a breed of chicken.
There are some more scientific classifications that separate chickens and Guinea fowl, but in simple terms, chickens are domestic birds and Guinea fowl are game birds more similar to pheasants.
Comparing Guinea fowl and chicken meat, Guinea fowl meat is much leaner and drier than chicken and has a more gamey flavor.
Physical Differences Between Guinea Fowl and Chickens
If you look at the picture above with a Guinea hen and chicken hen side-by-side, you can see the differences (and similarities) between these two types of birds.
The shape of Guinea fowl and how they move is why a lot of people see these birds as looking like chickens, and even confusing them for chickens sometimes.
Guinea fowl also scratch around a lot looking for bugs and scraps to eat, although they have a different type of strut if you observe them closely.
There are different colors of Guinea fowl, but generally speaking, the best way to tell them apart from chickens is their coloring and types of feathers.
Guineas typically have no feathers on their necks and heads. Most have that speckled pattern you can see in the image above, too, which chickens do not.
Hopefully, by seeing both of these birds next to each other you can now see the difference between Guineas and chickens.
They may be birds that look a little bit like chickens, but they are certainly very different in some ways.
Raising Guinea Fowl vs Chickens
If you’re thinking about adding Guinea fowl to your flock or starting out raising backyard birds with Guinea fowl, it’s a little more challenging than raising chickens.
Guinea fowl and chickens can live together, that’s not the issue.
The issue with raising Guinea fowl is that they’re much noisier than chickens and tend to wander much further.
First of all, let’s address the noise. If you live in an urban area and care about upsetting your neighbors, Guinea fowl might be too noisy.
Guinea fowl let out an almost deafening shriek, especially in large numbers.
This works to their advantage if they spot a predator or need to sound an alarm for any reason. But honestly, it’s antisocial behavior.
They also roam further than chickens and have much less regard for boundaries. This is also a problem unless you have a large amount of space.
The main problem is that without an enclosure, Guinea fowl will sleep or nest where they feel like it instead of coming home and roosting in a coop overnight.
The bottom line is that I see Guinea fowl as more of a ‘wild’ bird than chickens.
Related - A closer look at guinea fowl vs chicken eggs.
Pros of Keeping Guinea Fowl
I may have come across a bit negative about keeping Guinea fowl as backyard pets - I think it’s only fair to tell you about the pros of keeping them, too.
First of all, raising any birds or pets is an incredibly rewarding experience and Guinea fowl are no different.
One of the main advantages of raising Guinea fowl that a lot of owners like to talk about is just how effective they are at finding and eating bugs, insects, and in particular, ticks.
If you feel like you have an issue with ticks and other insects in your yard, Guinea fowl are very effective at pest control.
Guinea fowl also lay eggs that are just as delicious as chicken eggs. Female Guineas lay a lot less than the average hen at around 100 eggs/year, but it’s certainly an added benefit.
The bird that looks like a chicken that most people are confused about is the Guinea fowl - hopefully, this is the bird you saw?
Guinea fowl are interesting birds, and they actually make for much better backyard pets than most people are aware of.