Sincere thanks to all of the readers who sent comments about the guinea fowl (Willie) column last week.
It seems as though the story about my friendship with this elusive creature struck a nerve. Since the column was published, Willie has visited my yard a little less. Could be the heat outdoors; I don’t know.
Some readers guessed about Willie’s true residence. Others just could not stand the thought of Willie being all alone in the world.
Drew and Tami Schasny think it’s a real possibility that Willie could be their beloved guinea fowl Gertrude.
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Their friendship began about two years ago. The Schasnys would provide a pile of bird food and fresh water each morning, because the guinea fowl was so hungry. After doing some research, they determined by its cackling that the guinea fowl was a female.
At one point she also left them a few eggs to confirm her gender. They named her Gertrude.
The Schasnys grew attached to Gertie, and all their Preston Farms neighbors thought Gertie belonged to them.
One morning the Schasnys were late getting breakfast out for Gertie, so she peered into their window as if to remind them that they were behind schedule. When that happened, Tami said, she posted a video of Gertie on YouTube. They called it “Who’s That Gertie in the Window?”
“I had many pictures and stories about Gertie to share with family and friends,” Tami said.
But in April, Gertie disappeared after the Schasnys returned from a 10-day vacation. The Schasnys thought Gertie had met her demise in the challenges of maneuvering in the city.
“Gertie used to stroll across the street like she owned it,” Tami recalled. “She loved to sit on my husband’s truck and look at herself in the windshield. …Guineas like to do that.”
Tami always wanted to believe that her buddy Gertie was somewhere roaming around with her “bird-itude.” It is not out of the realm of possibility that Gertie and Willie could be one in the same. After all, guineas do fly.
Kelly Noble of Sanford raises and sells guineas, and she strongly believes that a guinea needs a guinea friend.
“Guineas are social animals,” Noble said. “I love guineas, and I cannot imagine one being all by himself.”
She feels so strongly that she is willing to “give away” a few guinea keets (young) if someone is willing to let them go when they are older, to possibly befriend Willie/Gertie. But you have to pick up the keet in Sanford.
Noble normally sells the keets for $4 each. Next season, she said, she will sell the vulturine guinea (which is a beautiful blue color) for $800 each. You can reach her at LoveMyKeets@yahoo.com.
Another guinea fowl lover, a woman named Fiona who wouldn’t give her last name, said she owned six of them and absolutely adores them.
“I hope someone in the area raises guineas and gives Willie the opportunity to ‘settle down’ and raise a family,” she wrote. Fiona posted my column about Willie on www.guineafowlinternational.org.
The moral of this story – I guess – is that we all need a friend, and friendship is where you find it. A few of us found a friend in a guinea fowl. Whether its name is Willie or Gertie, he or she brought joy to some folks in the University City area. And they are more than willing to return the favor.