verb, transitive. To poke roughly or quickly, especially with something sharp or pointed
noun. A quick, sharp blow, especially with the fist. A hypodermic injection, especially a vaccination. A sharp painful sensation or feeling.
The guineas were loosely scattered about the yard in the dawn light, almost ghostly in the overgrown grass. As always, the flock stationed one of their number as a guard, head raised and constantly turning, alert for predators or any other threat. While the watch-guinea was on duty, the others were free to forage, moving systematically across the ground, jabbing their beaks at the turf wherever they spied evidence of insect life.
It didn’t take much for the guard bird to raise an alarm: a cat stalking nearby would do it. Once the guard spotted it, the chorus of “buckwheat, buckwheat” would start, increasing in volume as every guinea in the flock took up the cry. The flock would move closer together and often would approach the marauder, facing it and baffling it with their chorusing call and their mass of wriggling, soccer-ball-sized bodies. Was this how these birds’ ancesters had learned to survive on the African savannah? Did they develop this intimidating technique to face off a lion?
Definitions adapted from The New Oxford American Dictionary, Oxford University Press, Inc., 2005 (eBook Edition, copyright 2008), and from Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam Company, Publishers, Springfield, Massachusetts, USA, 1965, depending on which is more convenient to hand.