Grouse -

The title "Grouse" is applied to a large family of American Game birds, the most important of which are the Ruffed Grouse, Prairie chicken, Sharp-Tailed Grouse, Dusky Grouse, Black Heath Cock, sage Grouse, Capercailze and Ptarmigan. In the East, custom generally reserves the title "Grouse" for the Prairie chicken and applies the name "(American) Partridge" to the Ruffed Grouse. Both of these birds are shown on the Color Page facing page 260.

The market "Grouse," or Prairie chicken, the latter name due to its resemblance to the domestic hen, averages about 3 1/2 lbs. a pair. Its upper plumage is brown with blackish and white markings, and the breast and under parts are whitish with brown and black marks.

The market "Partridge," or Ruffed Grouse, also called "pheasant" in some parts of the country, takes its true name from the "ruffs" of feathers at each side of its head. It is the most prized member of the Grouse family because, generally, the most delicate in meat and corresponds closely to the Gelinotte of Russia. It is larger than the English or Scotch Grouse. The plumage on the upper part of the bird is of chestnut varied with yellowish-brown, white, black and grey; the breast is buff-colored, the under parts whitish with brown marking, and the tail, long and of grey-brown or yellowish color. It feeds principally on fruits, herbs and seeds - to which diet is attributed the excellent flavor of its flesh. The average market weight is 2 1/2 lbs. a pair.

The Canadian Ruffed Grouse is similar in general appearance except that grey instead of chestnut is the predominating color of the plumage.

The Sharp-Tailed Grouse, also called "Prairie Hen" in some parts of the country, is a little larger than the Prairie chicken, of lighter color and with longer, more pointed tail.

The Dusky Grouse, also called "Blue Grouse," "Grey Grouse," "Wood Grouse," etc., has the upper plumage blackish-brown mixed with lighter brown and grey, and the under parts bluish-grey and white. It is also distinguished by its rounded tail of broad dark brown feathers. The adult attains a weight of two and a half to three and a half pounds. The flesh is exceptionally delicate and as white as that of a domestic hen.

The Black Heath Cock, or "Spruce Grouse" or "Canada Grouse," is a rather smaller bird than the Ruffed. The name "Spruce Grouse" refers to its favorite winter diet of spruce tree shoots. Its upper plumage is greyish, with shining rich bluish-black markings and its under side black and white. The tail is black, tipped with a reddish-yellow brown. The under part of the female is reddish-brown with black markings. The flesh is rather darker than that of the other varieties named.

The sage Grouse is the largest American Game fowl, excepting the wild turkey, attaining occasionally a weight of eight pounds. It is distinguished by its grey back, with darker markings, black breast and long tail. Its favorite diet is composed of the leaves and shoots of the sage brush, and when this is adhered to exclusively the result is an over-strong sage flavor in the flesh. Its food is, however, generally varied and its flesh consequently as pleasing and delicate as that of the more highly rated prairie chicken.

The Capercailze is a bird of large size and glossy black plumage. The hen is smaller than the cock and mottled in color.

The Ptarmigan is the extreme northern variety of the Grouse family, making its habitat in Alaska and other parts of the Arctic regions. During the summer its plumage is generally grey and brown with black feathers in the tail, but the costume is changed for white with the approach of the winter snows.

The best known, largest and most abundant type is the White Ptarmigan, also called Willow Ptarmigan and Willow Grouse. The flesh of the young bird is white and delicate, but that of older specimens is generally rather dry and sometimes bitter when willow buds have formed too large a share of its diet.

The Rock Ptarmigan is a smaller variety. It has the same general appearance, but is distinguished by a black line from its bill to the eye.

The White Tailed Ptarmigan is an exceptionally handsome bird formerly slaughtered in great quantities to obtain its feathers for millinery purposes.

Arround Grouse in The Grocer's Encyclopedia


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