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Grouse
Male Greater Sage-grouse
Centrocercus urophasianus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Subclass: Neornithes
Infraclass: Galloanserae
Order: Galliformes
Family: Phasianidae
Subfamily: Tetraoninae
Vigors, 1825
Genera

Bonasa
Centrocercus
Dendragapus
Lagopus
Tetrao
Tympanuchus
and see text

Synonyms

Tetraonidae Vigors, 1825

Grouse (pronounced /ˈɡraʊs/) are a group of birds from the order Galliformes. They are often considered a family Tetraonidae, though the American Ornithologists' Union and many others include grouse as a subfamily Tetraoninae in the family Phasianidae. Grouse inhabit temperate and subarctic regions of the northern hemisphere, from pine forests to moorland and mountainside,[1] from 83° North (Ptarmigan in northern Greenland) to 28° North (Attwater's Prairie Chicken in Texas). Presumably they evolved in this zone.[2]

Contents

Description

Grouse are heavily built like other Galliformes such as chickens. They range in length from 31 cm (12 in) to 95 cm (37 in), in weight from 0.3 kg (11 oz) to 6.5 kg (14 lb). Males are bigger than females—twice as heavy in the Capercaillie, the biggest member of the family. Grouse have feathered nostrils. Their legs are feathered to the toes, and in winter the toes too have feathers or small scales on the sides, an adaptation for walking on snow and burrowing into it for shelter. Unlike other Galliformes, they have no spurs.[2]

Feeding and habits

These birds feed mainly on vegetation—buds, catkins, leaves, and twigs—which typically accounts for over 95 percent of adults' food by weight. Thus their diet varies greatly with the seasons. Hatchlings eat mostly insects and other invertebrates, gradually reducing their proportion of animal food to adult levels. Several of the forest-living species are notable for eating large quantities of conifer needles, which most other vertebrates refuse. To digest vegetable food, grouse have big crops and gizzards, eat grit to break up food, and have long intestines with well-developed caeca in which symbiotic bacteria digest cellulose.[2]

Forest species flock only in autumn and winter, though individuals tolerate each other when they meet. Prairie species are more social, and tundra species (ptarmigans, Lagopus) are the most social, forming flocks of up to 100 in winter. All grouse spend most of their time on the ground, though when alarmed, they may take off in a flurry and go into a long glide.[2]

Most species stay within their breeding range all year, but make short seasonal movements; many individuals of the Ptarmigan (called Rock Ptarmigan in America) and Willow Grouse (called Willow Ptarmigan in America) migrate hundreds of kilometers.[2]

Reproduction

In all but one species (the Willow Grouse), males are polygamous. Many species have elaborate courtship displays on the ground at dawn and dusk, which in some are given in leks. The displays feature males' bright-colored combs and in some species, bright-colored inflatable sacs on the sides of their necks. The males display their plumage, give vocalizations that vary widely between species, and may engage in other activities such as drumming or fluttering their wings, rattling their tails, and making display flights. Occasionally males fight.[2]

The nest is a shallow depressions on the ground, often in cover, with a scanty lining of plant material. The female lays one clutch, but may replace it if the eggs are lost. She begins to lay about a week after mating and lays one egg every day or two; the clutch comprises 5 to 12 eggs. The eggs have the shape of hen's eggs and are pale yellow, sparsely spotted with brown. On laying the second-last or last egg, the female starts 21 to 28 days of incubation. Chicks hatch in dense yellow-brown down and leave the nest immediately. They soon develop feathers and can fly a little before they are two weeks old. The female (and the male in the Willow Grouse) stays with them and protects them till their first autumn, by which time they reach their mature weight (except in the male capercaillies). They are sexually mature the following spring but often do not mate until later years.[2]

Populations

Grouse make up a considerable part of the vertebrate biomass in the Arctic and Subarctic. Their numbers may fall sharply in years of bad weather or high predator populations—significant grouse populations are a major food source for lynx, foxes, martens, and birds of prey. However, because of their large clutches, they can recover quickly.

The three tundra species have maintained their former numbers. The prairie and forest species have declined greatly because of habitat loss, though popular game birds such as the Red Grouse and the Ruffed Grouse have benefited from habitat management. Most grouse species are listed by the IUCN as "least concern" or "near threatened", but the Greater and Lesser Prairie-Chicken are listed as "vulnerable" and the Gunnison Sage-Grouse is listed as "endangered". Some subspecies, such at Attwater's Prairie-Chicken and the Cantabrian Capercaillie, and some national and regional populations are also in danger.[2]

In culture

Grouse are game, and hunters kill millions each year for food, sport, and other uses. The male Black Grouse's tail feather are a traditional ornament for hats in areas such as Scotland and the Alps. Folk dances from the Alps to the North American prairies imitate the displays of lekking males.[2]

Species

Genus Dendragapus

Genus Lagopus - ptarmigans

Genus Tetrao - black grouse

Genus Bonasa

Genus Centrocercus - sage-grouse

Genus Tympanuchus - prairie grouse

References

  1. ^ Rands, Michael R.W. (1991). Forshaw, Joseph. ed. Encyclopaedia of Animals: Birds. London: Merehurst Press. pp. 91. ISBN 1-85391-186-0. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Storch, Ilse; Bendell, J. F. (2003). "Grouse". in Perrins, Christopher. The Firefly Encyclopedia of Birds. Firefly Books. pp. 184–187. ISBN 1-55297-777-3. 
  • de Juana, E. (1994). Family Tetraonidae (Grouse). Pp.376–411 in; del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. & Sargatal, J. eds. Handbook of the Birds of the World, Vol. 2. New World Vultures to Guineafowl. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. ISBN 8487334156

External links


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

GROUSE, a word of uncertain origin,' now used generally by ornithologists to include all the "rough-footed" Gallinaceous birds, but in common speech applied almost exclusively, when used alone, to the Tetrao scoticus of Linnaeus, the Lagopus scoticus of modern systematists - more particularly called in English the red grouse, but till the end of the 18th century almost invariably spoken of as the Moor-fowl or Moor-game. The effect which this species is supposed to have had on the British legislature, and therefore on history, is well known, for it was the common belief that parliament always rose when the season for grouse-shooting began (August 12th); while according to the Orkneyinga Saga (ed. Jonaeus, p. 356; ed. Anderson, p. 168) events of some importance in the annals of North Britain followed from its pursuit in Caithness in the year 1157.

The red grouse is found on moors from Monmouthshire and Derbyshire northward to the Orkneys, as well as in most of the Hebrides. It inhabits similar situations throughout Wales and Ireland, but it does not naturally occur beyond the limits of the British Islands, 2 and is the only species among birds peculiar to them. The word "species" may in this case be used advisedly (since the red grouse invariably "breeds true," it admits of an easy diagnosis, and it has a definite geographical range); but scarcely any zoologist can doubt of its common origin with the willow-grouse, Lagopus albus (L. subalpinus or L. saliceti of some authors), that inhabits a subarctic zone from Norway across the ' It seems first to occur (0. Salusbury Brereton, Archaeologia, iii. 157) as "grows" in an ordinance for the regulation of the royal household dated "apud Eltham, mens. Jan. 22 Hen. VIII.," i.e. 1531, and considering the locality must refer to black game. It is found in an Act of Parliament I Jac. I. cap. 27, § 2, i.e. 1603, and, as reprinted in the Statutes at Large, stands as now commonly spelt, but by many writers or printers the final e was omitted in the 17th and 18th centuries. In 1611 Cotgrave had "Poule griesche. A Moore-henne; the henne of the Grice [in ed. 1673" Griece "I or Mooregame" (Dictionarie of the French and English Tongues, s.v. Poule). The most likely derivation seems to be from the old French word griesche, greoche or griais (meaning speckled, and cognate with griseus, grisly or grey), which was applied to some kind of partridge, or according to Brunetto Latini (Tres. p. 211) to a quail, "porce que ele fu premiers trovee en Grece." The Oxford Dictionary repudiates the possibility of "grouse" being a spurious singular of an alleged plural "grice," and, with regard to the possibility of "grows" being a plural of "grow," refers to Giraldus Cambrensis (c. 1210), Topogr. Hib. opera (Rolls) v. 47: "gallinae campestres, quas vulgariter grutas vocant." 2 It was successfully, though with much trouble, introduced by Mr Oscar Dickson on a tract of land near Gottenburg in Sweden (Svenska Jcigarforbundets Nya Tidskrift, 1868, p. 64 et alibi). continents of Europe and Asia, as well as North America from the Aleutian Islands to Newfoundland. The red grouse indeed is rarely or never found away from the heather on which chiefly it subsists; while the willow-grouse in many parts of the Old World seems to prefer the shrubby growth of berry-bearing plants (Vaccinium and others) that, often thickly interspersed with willows and birches, clothes the higher levels or the lower mountain-slopes, and it flourishes in the New World where heather scarcely exists, and a "heath" in its strict sense is unknown. It is true that the willow-grouse always becomes white in winter, which the red grouse never does; but in summer there is a considerable resemblance between the two species, the cock willow-grouse having his head, neck and breast of nearly the same rich chestnut-brown as his British representative, and, though his back be lighter in colour, as is also the whole plumage of his mate, than is found in the red grouse, in other respects the two species are precisely alike. No distinction can be discovered in their voice, their eggs, their build, nor in their anatomical details, so far as these have been investigated and compared.1 Moreover, the red grouse, restricted as is its range, varies in colour not inconsiderably according to locality.

Though the red grouse does not, after the manner of other members of the genus Lagopus, become white in winter, Scotland possesses a species of the genus which does. This is the ptarmigan, L. mutus or L. alpinus, which differs far more in structure, station and habits from the red grouse than that does from the willow-grouse, and in Scotland is far less abundant, haunting 1 A very interesting subject for discussion would be whether Lagopus scoticus or L. albus has varied most from the common stock of both. Looking to the fact that the former is the only species of the genus which does not assume white clothing in winter, an evolutionist might at first deem the variation greatest in its case; but then it must be borne in mind that the species of Lagopus which turn white differ in that respect from all other groups of the family Tetraonidae. Furthermore every species of Lagopus (even L. leucurus, the whitest of all) has its first set of remiges coloured brown. These are dropped when the bird is about half-grown, and in all the species but L. scoticus white remiges are then produced. If therefore the successive phases assumed by any animal in the course of its progress to maturity indicate the phases through which the species has passed, there may have been a time when all the species of Lagopus wore a brown livery even when adult, and the white dress donned in winter has been imposed upon the wearers by causes that can be easily suggested. The white plumage of the birds of this group protects them from danger during the snows of a protracted winter. But the red grouse, instead of perpetuating directly the more ancient properties of an original Lagopus that underwent no great seasonal change of plumage, may derive its ancestry from the widely-ranging willow-grouse, which in an epoch comparatively recent (in the geological sense) may have stocked Britain, and left descendants that, under conditions in which the assumption of a white garb would be almost fatal to the preservation of the species, have reverted (though doubtless with some modifications) to a comparative immutability essentially the same as that of the primal Lagopus. only the highest and most barren mountains. It is said to have formerly inhabited both Wales and England, but there is no evidence of its appearance in Ireland. On the continent of Europe it is found most numerously in Norway, but at an elevation far above the growth of trees, and it occurs on the Pyrenees and on the Alps. It also inhabits northern Russia.

Ptarmigan.

In North America, Greenland and Iceland it is represented by a very nearly allied form - so much so indeed that it is only at certain seasons that the slight difference between them can be detected. This form is the L. rupestris of authors, and it would appear to be found also in Siberia (Ibis, 18 79, p. 1 4 8). Spitzbergen is inhabited by a large form which has received recogni tion as hemileucurus, and the northern end of the chain of the Rocky Mountains is tenanted by a very distinct species, the smallest and perhaps the most beautiful of the genus, leucurus, which has all the feathers of the tail white.

The bird, however, to which the name of grouse in all strictness belongs is probably the Tetrao tetrix of Linnaeus - the blackcock and greyhen, as the sexes are respectively called. It is distributed over most of the heath-country of England, except in East Anglia, where attempts to introduce it have been only partially successful. It also occurs in North Wales and very generally throughout Scotland, though not in Orkney, Shetland or the Outer Hebrides, nor in Ireland. On the continent of Europe it has a very wide range, and it extends into Siberia. In Georgia its place is taken by a distinct species, on which a Polish naturalist (Proc. Zool. Society, 1875, p. 267) has conferred the name 9f T. mlokosiewiczi. Both these birds have much in common with their larger congener the capercally and its eastern representative.

The species of the genus Bonasa, of which the European B. sylvestris is the type, does not inhabit the British Islands. It is perhaps the most delicate game-bird that comes to table. It is the gelinotte of the French, the Haselhuhn of Germans, and Hjerpe of Scandinavians. Like its transatlantic congener B. umbellus, the ruffed grouse or birch-partridge (of which there are two other local forms, B. umbelloides and B. sabinii), it is purely a forest-bird. The same may be said of the species of Canace, of which two forms are found in America, C. canadensis, the spruce-partridge, and C. franklini, and also of the Siberian C. falcipennis. Nearly allied to these birds is the group known as Dendragapus, containing three large and fine forms D. obscurus, D. f uliginosus, and D. richardsoni - all peculiar to North America. Then there are Centrocercus urophasianus, the sage-cock of the plains of Columbia and California, and Pedioecetes, the sharptailed grouse, with its two forms, P. phasianellus and P. columbianus, while finally Cupidonia, the prairie-hen, also with two local forms, C. cupido and C. pallidicincta, is a bird that in the United States of America possesses considerable economic value, enormous numbers being consumed there, and also exported to Europe.

The various sorts of grouse are nearly all figured in Elliot's Monograph of the Tetraoninae, and an excellent account of the American species is given in Baird, Brewer and Ridgway's North American Birds (iii. 414-465). See also SHOOTING. (A. N.)


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Simple English

Grouse
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Subclass: Neornithes
Infraclass: Galloanserae
Order: Galliformes
Family: Phasianidae
Subfamily: Tetraoninae
Vigors, 1825
Genera

Bonasa
Centrocercus
Dendragapus
Lagopus
Tetrao
Tympanuchus
and see text

Synonyms

Tetraonidae Vigors, 1825

Grouse are a group of game birds from the order Galliformes. They are often considered a family Tetraonidae, all though the and many others include grouse in the family Phasianidae. The grouse are henlike terrestrial birds, there plumage is protectively shaded of brown, gray, and red. Entirely hidden by feathers, and also their legs are completely feathered.








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