capercaillie defined in 1930 yearcapercaillie - Capercaillie;
capercaillie - Feathers of the throat elongated, black; bead and neck dusky; eyes with a bare red skin above and a white spot below; wings brown speckled with black; breast lustrous green; belly black with white spots; rump and flanks marked with undulating lines of black and ash colour; tail black with white spots; beak horn-white. Length, two feet ten inches. Female: a third smaller, barred and spotted with tawny red, black, and white; throat tawny red; breast deep red; tail dark red with black bars, white at the tip.
North Britain, with its islands, although poor in species comparatively, has one glory which her larger, richer neighbour is without: her wilder districts still afford breeding-places to several of the larger species which have long ceased to exist in England. Of these are the osprey, sea-eagle, golden eagle, ptarmigan, and capercaillie, the last the finest game-bird of Europe, with the sole exception of the great bustard. The story of the capercaillie in Great Britain is singularly interesting. It became extinct about the middle of the last century, and was recovered some eighty or ninety years later, when it was reintroduced from Sweden in 1837-8, and has since spread over a large portion of Scotland, and continues to extend its range.
The difference in size between the cock and hen capercaillie is greater than in any other game-bird. In Scotland, the weight of the male is from ten to eleven pounds, that of the female about four pounds and a half. In northern Europe the cock weighs as much as seventeen pounds. It is curious to find that in a large number of gallinaceous birds, the pheasants and grouse more especially, the females have a near resemblance in size, form, and colouring. The divergence is mostly in the males, and is greatest in the polygamous species. Thus, it would be difficult to find two birds in the same order more utterly unlike in appearance than the cock pheasant and capercaillie; yet the females of the two species preserve a strong family likeness.
The capercaillie feeds on the tender shoots of the Scotch fir, and on buds and shoots of other trees and plants, and berries of various kinds. He is an early breeder, and in spring the cock is heard uttering his powerful double cry, several times repeated in succession, from a lofty perch in a pine-tree. While calling he puffs out his plumage and expands his tail like an angry turkey-cock. The call, which is uttered early in the morning, is a summons to the hens, who are not slow to obey it, and is also a challenge to other males. The same spot is used morning after morning for meetings, displays, and combats, until each male has secured his tale of hens, whereupon breeding begins. The nest is a slight hollow scratched in the ground under a bush, and the eggs are six to twelve in number. They are pale reddish yellow in ground-colour, spotted and blotched with brown.
The male does not assume the mature plumage until the third year.
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