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Downtown’s guinea fowl: A Lowcountry love story

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Lamboll Street Guinea Gang | Photo by Hans Meier

Why did the guinea hen cross the road? To bock traffic on Lamboll Street.

There’s a group of guinea hens — aka guinea fowl — that struts around downtown Charleston between Legare and King streets like the dodos in “Ice Age.” But unlike the dodos, these birds can fly. You may hear a guinea hen before you see one — and they often make quite a racket. Tap here to listen to the signature guinea squawk.

Guinea hens are speckled birds that originated in West Africa. They’re often raised on farms to “sound the alarm” when there’s any unusual activity. You may spot them crossing the road with a few of their babies in tow, dozing off in a shrub, or perched on a gate. If you come across any guinea hens, it’s best to let these feathered friends do their thing.

How did they get here? Don’t worry, we don’t suspect fowl play. Local legend says a pair of hens — known by locals as Ginny and Gus — showed up in South of Broad in the 2000s and the family of birds has grown since. There’s a theory that the two lovebirds were dropped off in the upscale neighborhood as a prank. No matter how they got here, one thing’s for sure, these hens are a beloved part of the neighborhood today.

The guinea gang parades through South of Broad like they own the place, stopping traffic and drawing onlookers. It’s clear that guinea hens are at the top of Charleston’s pecking order, and we’re okay with that.