Birds – The Hazel Hens

(Tetrastes), of which four forms are recognized, are smaller birds than the Ruffed Grouse, none of them exceeding fourteen inches in length, and, as already stated, they are without the frilled ruff on the sides of the neck. The best-known species is the common Hazel Hen, Hazel Grouse, or “Gelinotte” (T. bonasia), a handsome bird of Europe and northern Asia. The male is grayish or rufous, barred with black above, while the chin, throat, and breast are black, the latter margined with white. The female is similar but smaller and has the chin and throat mostly white. According to Von Wright there is a tradition among the Finns that, ” at creation, this bird was the largest of the feathered tribe, but that year after year it has decreased in size, and will continue to do so until at last it will become so very diminutive as to be able to fly through the eye of a needle; and when that happens the world will come to an end.” The Hazel Hens frequent the “lower pine forests, birch-woods and hazel-copes,” but appear to enjoy a local rather than a general distribution. Their flight, like that of the Ruffed Grouse, is noisy and rapid, though not far extended, and when disturbed they take refuge among the thickest leafy branches of a tree. The male does not appear to “drum” after the manner of its relative, but utters, as his call to the opposite sex, a sort of melancholy long-drawn whistle, which in Scandinavia is often imitated by means of a hollow pipe of bone, wood, or metal, and the bird lured within shooting distance. The nest is a slight depression scratched in the ground, and the eggs, some eight to twelve in number, are buff spotted with brown. Of the habits of the Gray-bellied Hazel Hen (T. griseiventris) of eastern Russia, little or nothing is known, and the same may almost be said of Severtzov’s Hazel Hen (T. severtzovi) of western China.