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Page:Ornithological biography, or an account of the habits of the birds of the United States of America, volume 1.djvu/239

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THE RUFFED GROUSE.

Tetrao Umbellus, Linn.

PLATE XLI. Male and Female.


You are now presented, kind, reader, with a species of Grouse, which, in my humble opinion, far surpasses as an article of food every other land-bird which we have in the United States, except the Wild Turkey, when in good condition. You must not be surprised that I thus express an opinion contradictory to that of our Eastern epicures, who greatly prefer the flesh of the Pinnated Grouse to that of the present species, for I have had abundant opportunity of knowing both. Perhaps, after all, the preference may depend upon a peculiarity in my own taste; or I may give the superiority to the Ruffed Grouse, because it is as rarely met with in the Southern States, where I have chiefly resided, as the Pinnated Grouse is in the Middle Districts; and were the bon-vivants of our eastern cities to be occasionally satiated with the latter birds, as I have been, they might possibly think their flesh as dry and flavourless as I do.

The names of Pheasant and Partridge have been given to the present species by our forefathers, in the different districts where it is found. To the west of the Alleghanies, and on these mountains, the first name is generally used. The same appellation is employed in the Middle Districts, to the east of the mountains, and until you enter the State of Connecticut; after which that of Partridge prevails.

The Ruffed Grouse, although a constant resident in the districts which it frequents, performs partial sorties at the approach of autumn. These are not equal in extent to the peregrinations of the Wild Turkey, our little Partridge, or the Pinnated Grouse, but are sufficiently so to become observable during the seasons when certain portions of the mountainous districts which they inhabit become less abundantly supplied with food than others. These partial movings might not be noticed, were not the birds obliged to fly across rivers of great breadth, as whilst in the mountain lands their groups are as numerous as those which attempt these migrations; but on the north-west banks of the Ohio and Susquehanna rivers, no one who pays the least attention to the manners and habits of our birds, can fail to observe them. The Grouse approach the banks of