Online Encyclopedia

BLACKCOCK (Tetrao tetrix)

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V04, Page 21 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
Spread the word: del.icio.us del.icio.us it!
BLACKCOCK (Tetrao tetrix), the English name given to a bird of the family Tetraonidae or grouse, the female of which is known as the grey hen and the young as poults. In size and plumage the two sexes offer a striking contrast, the male weighing about 4 lb, its plumage for the most part of a rich glossy black shot with blue and purple, the lateral tail feathers curved outwards so as to form, when raised, a fan-like crescent, and the eyebrows destitute of feathers and of a bright vermilion red. The female, on the other hand, weighs only 2 lb, its plumage is of a russet brown colour irregularly barred with black, and its tail feathers are but slightly forked. The males are polygamous, and during autumn and winter associate together, feeding in flocks apart from the females; but with the approach of spring they separate, each selecting a locality for itself, from which it drives off all intruders, and where morning and evening it seeks to attract the other sex by a display of its beautiful plumage, which at this season attains its greatest perfection, and by a peculiar cry, which Selby describes as " a crowing note, and another similar to the noise made by the whetting of a scythe." The nest, composed of a few stalks of grass, is built on the ground, usually Blackcock. beneath the shadow of a low bush or a tuft of tall grass, and here the female lays from six to -ten eggs of a dirty-yellow colour speckled with dark brown. The blackcock then rejoins his male associates, and the female is left to perform the labours of hatching and rearing her young brood. The plumage of both sexes is at first like that of the female, but after moulting the young males gradually assume the more brilliant plumage of their sex. There are also many cases on record, and specimens may be seen in the principal museums, of old female birds assuming, to a greater or less extent, the plumage of the male. The blackcock is very generally distributed over the highland districts of northern and central Europe, and in some parts of Asia. It is found on the principal heaths in the south of England, but is specially abundant in the Highlands of Scotland.
End of Article: BLACKCOCK (Tetrao tetrix)
[back]
FRANCIS BLACKBURNE (1782-1867)
[next]
BLACKFOOT (Siksika)

Additional information and Comments

There are no comments yet for this article.
» Add information or comments to this article.
Please link directly to this article:
Highlight the code below, right click and select "copy." Paste it into a website, email, or other HTML document.