Game fowl include many well-known domestic species. Chickens and turkeys rank among the better-known game fowls. Pheasants, peafowl and grouse are also included in this order of birds, which vary widely in size and comprise 250 species. Game fowl are not monogamous and tend to be prolific breeders. These stoutly built birds are prized for their flesh and are an important food source globally.
Domestic Chickens and Turkeys
Domestic chickens and turkeys belong to a family of ground-dwelling birds, which includes the guinea fowl, peafowl, pheasant, partridge and grouse. Domestic chickens originated from wild jungle fowl, which are native to southern Asia and the neighboring islands. The domestic chicken is the most numerous bird type in the world and in excess of 60 different breeds exist. Turkeys are native to the Eastern United States and Northern Mexico, and were domesticated about 500 years ago by the Aztecs. Male turkeys have wattles on their necks and at the base of their bill.
Pheasants are colorful game birds that feed on berries, a variety of seeds and insects. These birds are not monogamous and males mate with numerous females, who incubate and rear their chicks without assistance from their mates. The common pheasant represents one of the most hunted birds globally. This pheasant is commercially bred and has been introduced into numerous areas for this purpose.
The male peafowl, which is termed a peacock, possesses an extravagant tail or train, which is used as part of the bird’s courtship display. This game bird is the national bird of India. Two species of peafowl exist. The Indian peafowl is native to India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, while the green peafowl is found in Myanmar. The male bird is more colorful than his mate and exhibits beautiful iridescent plumage. The tail of the impressive male is comprised not of the tail feathers, but of the highly elongated upper tail coverts. A number of eye markings are visible once the tail is fanned.
Grouse are terrestrial game birds found in the Northern Hemisphere. The plumage of the 25 grouse species is typically brown, grey or red, and camouflages these hen-like birds. The legs of these game birds are completely feathered.
The African guinea fowl is a ground-nesting game bird with a featherless head and spotted grey plumage. This is a monogamous species that has been domesticated, and introduced into the West Indies and southern France. The African guinea fowl feeds on seeds and insects, and female birds tend to lay their eggs in large communal nests.