When is a grouse not a grouse? When it’s a pheasant of course. I have been reliably informed by my fellow allotmenteers that what I thought were grouse are actually pheasants. It’s an easy mistake to make for someone who knows nothing about birds, but they are from the same wildfowl family and I do think they look alike. (photos from www.birdwatchireland.ie)
“Known as cearc fhraoigh as Gaeilge which means bird of heather, red grouse are perhaps the most characteristic bird of raised and blanket bogs. A medium sized, native gamebird, they are smaller than pheasants and have a rounded tail.
Grouse nest and shelter in tall heather. They feed on young heather shoots, flowers and seed. Berries such as fraocháns or bilberry and some insects are eaten. Mineral grit is also required to assist the breakdown of heather in the gizzard. Males are territorial in winter, with females joining them on their territories in spring before nesting starts in late April early May.
Historically, red grouse have been distributed widely in Ireland with extensive areas of heaths and bogs providing suitable food and shelter. Grouse lovers have expressed concern over their decline in many areas due to habitat loss caused by overgrazing, afforestation, mechanical peat extraction and uncontrolled burning.”
Grouse lookalike… female pheasant.