Red Grouse

Lagopus lagopus scotica

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The red grouse, a subspecies within the ptarmigans genus of birds, is native to the British Isles. It has been introduced to numerous other areas as a very popular gamebird amongst hunters, similar to the common pheasant in Germany. Its gamey red-brown meat is most prized. Contrary to its name and unlike, for example, the willow grouse, it does not acquire a seasonal, white winter plumage. Both sexes have a thick plumage and a similar rufous colouration and dark vermiculations. In contrast to the rock ptarmigan, it does not have bright whitish underparts. In summer, its plumage is somewhat brighter, although the smaller female generally has a lighter tone than the male. About the size of a chicken, the red grouse is a little bit larger than the rock ptarmigan. Its habitats consist predominantly of marsh and moorland. As fast and capable runners, they live primarily at ground level. They are vegetarian and subsist on willow, birch, cranberries and bog bilberry for the edible buds, leaves and shoots. Bog bilberries (also known as bilberry, bog blueberry, northern bilberry or western blueberry) belong to the bilberry genus and are poisonous to humans if eaten raw. To render the fruits edible they are processed into jam, puree or juice.

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