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Guinea Hen on the Loose in Inwood Park

By Carla Zanoni | September 21, 2012 8:59am

INWOOD — A mottled-bodied and red-faced guinea fowl has been spotted in a stretch of Isham Park, between Park Terrace East and Seaman Avenue, and has locals wondering how it got there. 

"I had not idea of what it was at first, but we welcome all kinds here," said Inwood resident Milicent Aruna, who first spotted the bird over Labor Day weekend.

The bird likely escaped from a poultry market in the area before making the unlikely spot its home, according to a bird expert at the volunteer-run Wild Bird Fund on the Upper West Side.

"There is no evidence of indigenous guinea fowl in New York City," the spokeswoman said.

According to a Parks Department spokesman, the department is aware of the bird, but did not respond to a request for information on whether it has a plan to capture or care for it.

Some have taken to calling Julia, in honor of Julia Isham Taylor, who donated the namesake park to the City 100 years ago and whose legacy will be honored at an Inwood event celebrating the park on Sept. 29.

"Maybe she is in town for the Isham Centennial," Gretchen Mergenthaler wrote on Facebook, where locals have posted photos and video of the bird.

For many, the guinea fowl, with its plump oblong body and disproportionately small and fiercely bright red head, is a welcome addition for folks who have become accustomed to an assortment of odd visiting animals throughout the years.

In addition to redtailed hawks and baby bald eagles, Inwood Hill Park was recently home to a white domesticated duck that residents named Winston over the summer. The duck was taken to a wildlife sanctuary in Massachusetts after locals voiced concerns about its safety over the winter.

"Ladies and Gentlemen," wrote Inwood resident Emily Ackerman about the guinea fowl, "we have our new mascot."