(Tetrao Tetrix, Linn.—Le Coq de Bruyčre a queue fourchue, Buff.)
THIS bird though not of greater bulk than the common hen, weighs nearly four pounds: length about one foot ten inches, breadth two feet nine. The bill is dark; the eyes deep blue; below each eye is a spot of dirty white, and above a larger one, of a bright scarlet, which extends almost to the top of the head; the general colour of the plumage is deep black, richly glossed with blue on the neck and rump; the lesser wing coverts are dusky brown; the greater white, which extends to the ridge of the wing, forming a spot of that colour on the shoulder when the wing is closed; the quills are brown, the lower parts and tips of the secondaries white, forming a bar of white across the wing; there is likewise a spot of white on the bastard wing; the feathers of the tail are almost square at the ends, and when spread out, form a curve on each side; the under tail coverts are pure white: the legs and thighs dark brown, mottled with white; the toes toothed on the edges like those of the former species. In some of our specimens the nostrils were thickly covered with feathers, whilst in others they were quite bare, probably owing to the different ages of the birds.
These birds, like the former, are common in Russia, Siberia, and other northern countries, chiefly in high and wooded situations; and in the northern parts of our own island on uncultivated moors: they feed on various kinds of berries and other fruits, the produce of wild and mountainous places: in summer they frequently come down from their lofty situations for the sake of feeding on corn. They do not pair, but on the return of spring the males assemble in great numbers at their accustomed resorts, on the tops of high and heathy mountains, when the contest for superiority commences, and continues with great bitterness till the vanquished are put to flight: the victors being left in possession of the field, place themselves on an eminence, clap their wings, and with loud cries give notice to their females, who immediately resort to the spot It is said that each cock has two or three hens, which seem particularly attached to him. The female is about one-third less than the male, and differs from him considerably in colour; her tail is likewise much less forked. She makes an artless nest on the ground, and lays from eight to twelve eggs, of a yellowish colour, with spots of a rusty brown. The young cocks at first resemble the mother, and do not acquire their male garb till towards the end of autumn, when their plumage gradually changes to a deeper colour, and assumes that of a bluish black, which it afterwards retains.
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