American Game Birds

Illustrating More Than One Hundred Species In Natural Colors

By Chester A. Reed

Page 53

SAGE HEN (Centrocercus urophasianus). This, the largest of American grouse, measuring about 28 in. in length and weighing up to 8 pounds, is found in western North America from Britsh Columbia and Assiniboia to central California and Colorado.

     The hen bird is considerably smaller than the cock, measuring but 23 in. in length.

     These great birds inhabit the Great Basin and arid plains throughout their range, where sage is the prevailing brush. They are strictly terrestrial fowl, feeding almost wholly on sage leaves which impart a disagreeable taste to their flesh. They remain common only in regions remote from civilization, for their large bodies offer such an easy mark even though their flight be swift, that they soon become scarce after the country becomes settled.

     Because of their great size, the actions of cock birds during mating season arc even more ludicrous than those of other grouse. The air sacs on the neck are enormously inflated until the whole breast is balloon-shaped and then he slides along over the bare ground for some distance on this improvised pneumatic tire. While expelling the air, he produces a great variety of cackling and rumbling noises. At the end of this season the feathers on the breast are worn away by this constant friction with the ground, leaving only the stiff shafts at their ends.


WILD TURKEY (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris). Largest and finest of game birds and the originator of the common domestic turkey. Found in their several races in eastern and southern United States, north to Pennsylvania and west to Texas; formerly north to New England. Frequent wooded districts and are by nature very wary and shy, yet they are very easily trapped and it was this means that has driven them from most of their former range. At present they are taken chiefly by trailing or by calling. They have a remarkably keen sense of sight and smell and a strong pair of legs with which to run away, as well as good wings if necessity demands their use. With plenty of cover, the turkey is pretty capable of caring for himself.