Red grouse

Red Grouse. Gor, Or Moor-Cock. Moor, Or Muir-Fowl. Red-Game. Red, Or Brown Ptarmigan. Figures 26 & 27. [center and bottom]

Varioud bird eggs

Tetrao, or Lagopus Scoticus  is the scientific name of this species; the meaning of the first term is already explained, the second comes from Lagos —a hare, and pous —a foot, and is given to this bird because it has the lower joints of the leg, and even the toes, feathered, differing in this respect from the other kinds of Grouse. Scoticus  means Scotch, and indicates the country in which the species most abounds, although it is also found in various parts of England and Wales; it is, however, peculiar to Great Britain, and therefore the name Britannicus  has been suggested as a more appropriate generic name for it.

The Red Grouse is, perhaps, the most highly-prized of all game birds, and the wonder is that it continues so abundant, notwithstanding the annual slaughter which takes place in its breeding and feeding grounds, which are mostly the open moors and hill-sides, where there is plenty of heath and ling, and other low-growing plants of the like nature. It is especially partial to the heather, which affords it both shelter and food. It also feeds on various grasses and mountain berries, and grain when its home is near cultivated districts, which it generally, however, avoids, retiring as far as possible from the presence of man, as though it knew and feared him as its greatest enemy.

The nest of the Muir Cock, as the Scotch call it, is formed of heather and grass, with a few of the soft downy feathers of the bird, and is placed in a hollow of the ground among the heath. The first eggs are laid in March or April; they are usually six or seven in number, although sometimes they amount to twelve and even more; they vary considerably in colour, the ground being usually a greyish white, with more or less of a reddish brown or yellow tinge. They are thickly dotted or clouded with dark grey and brown; the shape is a regular oval.

The Heath Poults, as the young are called, leave the nest directly they are hatched, as do most of the game birds, and are very soon able to fly. At first they lie close, and may almost be trodden upon, but they get more wild and wary as the shooting-season advances; this commences in August.