Female of the domestic variation of the Wild Guinea-fowl Numida meleagris, Pintade sauvage.
OTH 1 3 315 I would drown myself, for the love of a guinea-hen,
The guinea-fowl originates from Africa and as the Portuguese discoveries along the west coast of Africa preceded those of the Spaniards in America, the guinea-fowl (sometimes called turkey-fowl) was known before the turkey.
In Othello, Iago says:
ere I would say
I would drown myself, for the love of a guinea-
hen, I would change my humanity with a baboon.
(1 3 314-6)
It is strongly derogatory, and this association of love and bestiality evokes the beliefs attached to the salaciousness of the quail (see QUAIL) which led to its use as a synonym for whore. Upon this M.R. RIDLEY, editor of the Arden Othello, comments: "I doubt whether Iago means more than something generally derogatory, a 'skirt', a 'bit of fluff'. His opinion of all women is low, and Desdemona is a woman, but even he would hardly call her a prostitute".
See TURKEY, where "turkeys" in "The turkeys in my pannier are quite starved" (1H4 2 1 25 p) could be guinea-fowls.