The guinea fowl flock currently roaming campus is thought to be the result of a student prank, said Ames Animal Shelter Supervisor Lorna Lavender.
Students first spotted three of the birds near Physics Hall the evening of Feb. 4. Campus security and an animal control officer captured the birds and took them to Ames Animal Shelter.
"There are seven remaining guinea fowl, loose and at large on campus," Lavender said.
How the birds arrived on campus is still a mystery.
"We're assuming that this is a prank. We're concerned that, you know, Iowa winter weather can be hard on the birds. They seem to be huddling together in pine trees, but not being able to get ahold of them is a concern to us," Lavender said.
Les Lawson, facilities planning and management manager, said the birds are not a concern to staff at this time because they are not causing any harm on campus.
"We contacted the ISU Animal Care and Use Committee to see if the guinea fowl were research birds for any purpose, whether it was studying nutrition or habits of guinea fowl; we didn't know," Lavender said. "According to the Animal Care and Use Committee ... we can't link them to any projects on-campus."
Jake Swanson, senior in global resource systems, said finding the birds on campus was ultimately confusing.
"We were just trying to figure out where they came from and, you know, why now?" Swanson said.
Swanson knew the birds were guinea fowl from his experiences in 4-H chicken judging.
"[A guinea fowl] is basically a chicken. Based on how tame they are, I would guess that they're from a farm or something like that," Swanson said.
Lavender said the three captured birds will be going to a foster farm near Ames until someone comes to claim them. Animal control hopes to capture the remaining seven soon.
"We're sort of waiting [for] the birds to get herded into a corner area where they're catchable," Lavender said.
Swanson and Lavender both assure that the guinea fowl are not a threat to the student body.
"They're not dangerous or anything. I think students should enjoy them. I think they're hilarious to watch," Swanson said.
Lavender said the guinea fowl will be available for adoption. Interested parties are encouraged to contact the shelter for more information.
"I think it's kind of interesting that this is one of the unique things about Iowa State; I mean, that this is something that can happen every once in a while," Swanson said.