The White-breasted Guineafowl Agelastes meleagrides, an endangered endemic bird of the Upper Guinea forests of West Africa, was studied in Taï National Park, south-west Côte d'Ivoire, from February 1989 to February 1991. Groups of guineafowl were followed, with notes made on behaviour, movements, diet and habitat; droppings were collected, photographs taken and sound recordings made.
There were 118 sightings of the birds, with 120 hours of direct observation. Average group size was 15.8, and young birds were seen on 12 occasions in the months November to May. The birds prefer dry, closed-canopy forest, and avoid wet valley bottoms. They spend much of the day walking over the forest floor searching for food, scratching leaves noisily and uttering a fairly continuous quiet “twitter”. Around 60% of each day is spent feeding, and the birds appear to eat mainly invertebrates. Intra-group aggression or chasing occurs with some frequency. Preening is also frequent, accounting for around 20% of the day. Alertness, walking and inactivity occur for short periods throughout the day. The birds roost in thin understorey trees, with group members spread over around 30×30 m.
The birds range over approximately 0.9 km2, and during the day follow a convoluted route. If one group encounters another, fierce inter-group aggression may ensue. Over much of Taï Forest, an average group of guineafowl is likely to consist of around 16 birds and range over approximately 1 km2. The population of the birds in Taï National Park may number perhaps 30,000–40,000 birds. The conservation of White-breasted Guineafowl will be best achieved through the protection of its remaining forest habitat and prevention of hunting.