WILLOW-GROUSE and PTARMIGAN.
Feet and toes densely covered with feathers. Tail of sixteen feathers. Six species, viz.— L. scoticus. Male 15 1/2". Female 15". Weight 28 to 30 oz. The Red Grouse or Moor-Cock. Primaries brown. Tail square. Male has a long moustache and a large red wattle. Female has no moustache and a smaller wattle. The peculiarity of Red Grouse is that changes of plumage in male and female occur at different seasons. Both have two distinct moults during the year, but in the male they occur in autumn and winter, and in the female in autumn and summer. The male has no distinct summer dress and the female has no distinct winter plumage. Considered by some as an insular form of L. lagopus.
The only species of game bird peculiar to the British Isles. The male bird in autumn plumage has the upper parts black, margined and irregularly barred buff. Chest widely barred buff and black. In winter-summer plumage, which begins to appear about 1st September, the upper parts are black, finely mottled chestnut. Head, neck, and chest dark chestnut, finely marked black, and when once the winter moult is complete, no change whatever takes place in the plumage of the male till the following autumnal moult. The female in autumn-winter plumage, commencing in November, has upper parts black, irregularly barred and mottled rufous, and a buff spot at tip of most feathers. Chest and flanks narrowly barred rufous and black. Below dark chestnut, mottled and barred black. In summer the upper parts are black, widely margined, barred and marked orange-buff, and this change is generally complete by the first week in May. "The summer flank-feathers are produced in two ways, either by a gradual rearrangement and change in the pigment of the autumn feathers or by moult." Inhabits open moors, covered with heath and ling from sea-level, but not found above the level where these plants grow. Monogamous. Nesting season April to May. Grouse shooting commences 12th August and ends on 10th December. Seven to fifteen eggs (1.75 x 1.32) buff, spotted and blotched reddish brown.
L. lagopus. Male 15 1/2". Female 15". The Willow-Grouse, or Ripa. Primaries white. Outer tail- feathers black with bases and tips white. Three distinct changes of plumage in summer, autumn, and winter in both male and female alike. In winter both birds are white with outer tail-feathers black, and in autumn both birds have the head, throat, and chest pale chestnut, finely barred black. The flight-feathers, tail-feathers, and feathers of the feet are renewed at this season. In summer the male has head and neck chestnut. Upper parts chestnut, mottled, and barred black, and often tipped buff. Below white, and the female has the upper parts black, widely margined, and marked orange-buff. Found among birch and willow trees. Perch and roost on trees. Circumpolar, inhabiting Arctic tundras of Europe, Asia, and America. Eggs as in L. scoticus.
L. mutus. Male 14 1/2". Female 14". The Common Ptarmigan. Primaries white. Tail rounded. Outer tail black, with base and tips white. Bill more slender than in the Red and Willow- Grouse. In summer the male has red wattles over the eyes, and is black and brown above, except on lower back and rump, where he is white. In autumn the black and brown have become greys, and in winter the plumage is almost white.
The winter plumage is more or less white, and mid-tail is white. The males have black lores, the females have not. It may be said to be complete by middle of November, and this dress lasts till the end of February.
The summer plumage is dark brown, mottled and barred grey and rusty. (The males have red wattles, lower back and rump white.) It commences in the beginning of March, is completed by end of May, and lasts till the end of July, when the autumn feathers begin to appear, and the feathers moult from the legs.
The autumn plumage, or change of colour from blacks and browns to greys, commences at end of July, and is complete by 20th August. The feathers are fading in September, and by mid-October the white feathers of the third moult begin to appear, and by the end of October the feet are again quite fully covered.
Monogamous. From Scotland to the Ural Mountains, and south to the Pyrenees and Alps, above the limits of tree growth and heather. Eggs similar to those of L. scoticus.
L. rupestris, the Rock-Ptarmigan. A climatic variety of L. mutus, from northern latitudes.
L. hyperboreus. The Spitzbergen Ptarmigan. Distinguished by having more white on basal part of tail-feathers at all seasons.
L. leucurus. Male 12 1/2". Female 12". The White-tailed Ptarmigan. Outer tail-feathers pure white.
Changes of plumage are similar to those of L. mutus, but the black markings on the summer plumage of the male are much bolder, and in winter the black lores are wanting. Seldom found at a lower altitude than 8,000 or 9,000 feet at any time. Summits of Rocky Mountains, from Alaska to N. Mexico. Eggs (1.75 x 1.2) salmon-buff, blotched chocolate.