Black grouse

Black Grouse. Black Game. Black Cock. Female—Grey Or Brown Hen. Figure 25. [top]

Varioud bird eggs

The meaning of the generic name of this bird—Tetrao, is by no means clear, neither is that of its specific name tetrix : are they not both derived from the Hindostanee word Tetur ? is the query of Morris, who does not tell us what this tetur  means.

The Black Grouse, conspicuous for its large size, glossy black plumage, forked tail, turning out like the flakes of an anchor, and noble bearing, is, with the exception of its near relative, the Capercaillie, or Cock of the Woods, now only to be found in some of the Scottish forests, the largest of our native game birds. It is found chiefly in Scotland, where it frequents those parts where there is a good growth of underwood or heather, or other thick vegetation, and also plenty of water, which appears to be necessary to its existence. It is also found in many of the English counties, being tolerably plentiful in Yorkshire and Northumberland, and about Windermere, in Westmoreland. It feeds on juniper and most other berries, and wild fruits, heather-twigs, and young shoots of many plants; the tops of grasses, rushes, sedge, and buds of trees, turnip and rape leaves, and even the young fronds of the fern.

The nest, which is placed in some marshy spot among heath, or in plantations or hedge-rows, amid the rank vegetation, is composed of grass or twigs, neatly laid but not woven together. The eggs are from five to eight or ten in number; the colour is reddish yellow, in some nearly white; they are irregularly spotted with reddish brown: they are generally laid in May.

A fine full-grown Black Cock will weigh nearly four pounds; and the Grey Hen, which has a sober dress of brown and grey prettily intermixed, about half this weight. They are birds much valued as table delicacies; and every year immense numbers are shot by eager sportsmen, who leave the desk and the counter, the senate-house and the drawing-room, to roam amid the Scottish moors and mountains, and undergo fatigues and privations with an endurance and perseverance worthy of a better cause.