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common name for a game bird of the colder parts of the Northern Hemisphere. There are about 18 species. Grouse are henlike terrestrial birds, protectively plumaged in shades of red, brown, and gray. The nostrils are entirely hidden by feathers, and the legs are partially or completely feathered.

The most common eastern American grouse is the ruffed grouse (sometimes miscalled partridge or pheasant), Bonasa umbellus, a forest bird noted for the drumming sound made by the male during its elaborate courtship dance. The ptarmigan (Lagopus lagopus), or snow grouse, is an arctic species that migrates to the NW United States in winter, when its plumage changes from rusty brown to white, matching the snow. Western American grouse include the prairie chicken, Tympanuchus cupido, once common in the East, and the sage grouse, Centrocercus urophasianus. The latter, called also sage hen, sage cock, or cock of the plains, is the largest American grouse (25–30 in./62.5–70 cm long) and so named because its flesh tastes strongly of sage—the result of feeding on sagebrush buds. The males of both these species are distinguished by yellow air sacs on the neck that inflate to an enormous size during courtship. European species include the capercaillie, the largest grouse (roughly the size of turkey), and the black grouse. The red grouse is found in Great Britain.

Striking fluctuations in the abundance of all grouse species occur in intervals of 7 to 10 years. A combination of factors, rather than a single explanation, appears to be the cause for this not entirely understood phenomenon. Fortunately, grouse have high reproductive rates, which enable them to restore their populations after a low-level period.

Grouse are classified in the phylum ChordataChordata
, phylum of animals having a notochord, or dorsal stiffening rod, as the chief internal skeletal support at some stage of their development. Most chordates are vertebrates (animals with backbones), but the phylum also includes some small marine invertebrate animals.
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, subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Galliformes, family Tetraonidae.


(vertebrate zoology)
Any of a number of game birds in the family Tetraonidae having a plump body and strong, feathered legs.


any gallinaceous bird of the family Tetraonidae, occurring mainly in the N hemisphere, having a stocky body and feathered legs and feet. They are popular game birds
References in periodicals archive ?
The current range of the Gunnison sage grouse is limited to parts of southwestern Colorado and southeastern Utah.
Wood grouse cannot survive on vast clearings left after logging," photographer and environmentalist, Karol Kalisky says.
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Red grouse numbers have already doubled over the past five years, following efforts to improve the condition of the 7,125-acre moor, which is mainly dry heath with some blanket bog.
A DEC survey asks hunters to record their daily grouse- and woodcock-hunting activities in a "hunting log," including the number of grouse and woodcock flushed, the number of hours hunted, the number of birds killed, and whether a dog was used to hunt.
From killing wildlife - including foxes, stoats, corvids and even protected birds of prey - to torching the precious peat uplands to encourage heather growth, shoot operators' every act is aimed at maximising the number of grouse to be shot.
Happily, anti-grouse-shooting sentiment is growing massively as shown by the response to Animal Aid's recent Week of Action Against Grouse Shooting and the 100,000+ signatures on a League Against Cruel Sports petition calling for a ban.
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GROUSE shooting is a profitable business with large estates across Britain - particularly in Scotland, Yorkshire, the Peak District, Wales and the South West - offering packages.