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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 ?
Wood grouse cannot survive on vast clearings left after logging," photographer and environmentalist, Karol Kalisky says.
To take flight and defend themselves effectively, grouse need enough space.
Key words: sharp-tailed grouse, Tympanuchus phasianellus phasianellus, endoparasites, James Bay
Occupancy of a central territory on a lek has typically been related to preferred mating status in the sharp-tailed grouse (Kermott, 1982); that is, males in the central territories perform a disproportionate number of copulations compared to individuals on the periphery of the lek.
It did not stock red grouse last year either due to a shortage after poor weather.
When Iceland sold grouse last year, tests by conservationist Mark Avery found they averaged 100 times the level of lead allowed in UK beef, chicken and pork.
It is illegal to shoot the red grouse, and its smaller relative, the ptarmigan, outside of these dates, so the Glorious 12th is a particularly special day for gamekeepers and estate owners.
The first grouse to be shot on the day is prized above all others and can command high prices on the restaurant scene.
The Ruffed Grouse Society focuses its efforts on habitat conservation, education about and management of both ruffed grouse and woodcock, while promoting the great tradition of grouse and woodcock hunting.
Established in 1961, RGS continues to fulfill its mission by working with its volunteers to create young forest habitats that benefit grouse, woodcock and about 100 other kinds of wildlife.
Settlement of the West exacted a heavy toll on sagebrush habitat, and in turn, sage grouse populations that declined in the face of human development.
As early as 1916 observers were concerned about sage grouse becoming extinct.