National Geographic : 1915 Aug
MEARN'S QUAIL (Cyrtonyx montezums mearnsi). Range: From central Arizona and central New Mexico east to central Texas. and south to the mountains of northern Coahuila, Chihuahua, and eastern Sonora. Mearn's quail is a Mexican species which crossed our borders long before there were political boundaries, and established itself in the low mountain ranges of our western border States, where in time it changed somewhat from the parent stock. Although I have spent considerable time in the country it inhabits, chiefly in eastern Arizona, I never found it numerous, and though I searched persistently only occasionally discovered a small covey. If I am to judge by my rather limited experience, Mearn's quail is the tamest of its kind, and well deserves the epithet of "fool quail" locally bestowed on it. So closely does the bird lie after being once started that I found it almost impossible to flush one a second time unless I marked it down to the foot. I have observed one sitting motionless on a log by the side of the trail, within riding-whip distance of a passing mule train, apparently so petrified with astonishment as to be incapable of motion. RUFFED GROUSE (Bonasa umbellus umbellus). Range: Eastern United States from Minnesota, Michigan, southern New York, and southern Vermont south to eastern Kansas, northern Arkansas, Tennessee, and Virginia, and in the Alleghenies to northern Georgia. This, the partridge of the northern woods, the rtpheasant of the eas o e South, may well be termed the prince of American game birds. Its high position, however, is likely soon to be vacant and its place taken by some lesser member of the game bird galaxy unless vigorous efforts are made to check its decrease. Possessed of a vigorous constitution which enables the bird to brave the northern winter and defy all ordinary vicissitudes of weather, vigilant and shy where much persecuted, strong of wing and skilled in many a wile by means of which to elude the sports man and his keen-scented dog, our partridge is well equipped to make a brave fight for existence. And how bravely has it faced its fate! Though usually a resident of extensive forested tracts it is amazing how long the ruffed grouse will continue to live in leafy swamps of a few acres, or on little wooded islands, mere relics of its former forested domain. Gun and dog, natural diseases, sleety storms, and unfavorable breeding seasons are most potent for harm, while the high price placed on its flesh in the market is having its natural effect. In much of its range little time remains in which to save it. It is non-migratory, and hence only the States in which it lives can avert its impending doom. That the bird can be prop agated in confinement is much in its favor, and a little of the money spent in attempts to introduce foreign game birds would go a long way toward rehabili tating the partridge.: . No sound that echoes through our woods has quite the effect on the wayside stroller as the martial summons of the ruffed grouse, and it will be thrice a pity if future generations must miss the spring and fall roll call of this woodland drummer. BOB-WHITE (Colinus virginianus virginianus). Range: Eastern North America from South Dakota, southern Minnesota, southern Ontario, and southwestern Maine south to eastern and northern Texas, the Gulf coast, and northern Florida; west to eastern Colorado. Whatever this little friend of ours says to us in spring, whether "bob-white," as many interpret it, or "more-more-wet," according to the practical farmer, he utters it in such vigorous, albeit mellow tones, that he thereby endears himself to all hearts. And how many thereare who, asthe promises ofspring are fulfilled by opening summer, listen for thecheerful message ofthis blithe whistler offence post and thicket and are made happier when they hear it.And "Bobby" isno recluse of the thick woods. He loves the brier patch, the brown stubble, and the open, weedy field. The bright sunlight shines for him, and his loud, cheery call is sounded from some vantage point inthe open as though he would have allthe world hear his challenge to produce anything more beautiful than his little brown mate snugly hidden away near by. Long may his cheery whistle sound through the land. There is no reason why itshould not, save the too ardent zeal of the sportsman and the greed ofthe epicure. Bob-white isprolific, knows pretty well how to take care of himself, and, ifneed be, can bereared incaptivity. The fate of Bob-white, as of some other non-migratory game birds, rests solely with the several States within which he dwells. Unquestionably, inmost States, the present bag limit is altogether too high and should bematerially reduced. The farmer, too, should have a word tosay inthe premises since the food ofBob-white is such that he cannot afford to permit unlimited quail-shooting over his farm, but should jealously guard his coviesand besure that enough pairs are left to insure the future of the species. SPRUCE GROUSE(Canachites canadensis canace). Range: Manitoba, southern Ontario, and New Brunswick south to northern parts of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, New York, and New England. The history of the spruce partridge must bewritten mostly inthe past tense, so far at least as the United Statesisconcerned. Itused tobecommon inMichi gan, the Adirondack region of New York, and innorthern New England, but in all three districts is now either rare oraltogether wanting. The unsuspicious nature of this grouse and its total obliviousness to danger from human beings, or rather inhuman beings, probably had more to dowith its sad end than any thing else. It is said that when aflock was surprised intrees, one after another could be shot down till the last one was gone. As the grouse ispractically non migratory, its preservation depends solely onthe States inwhich itlives, and upon them must rest the responsibility forits fate. FRANKLIN'S GROUSE (Canachites franklini). Range: Southern Alaska, central British Columbia, and west-central Alberta south to northern Oregon, centralIdaho, and western Montana. Franklin's grouse was first described by Lewis and Clarke who saw itinIdaho while on their memorable trip to the Pacific coast. While thus known for more than a century, surprisingly little has been recorded concerning itsmode oflife. From the close similarity it bears to the spruce partridge ofthe East, itno doubt possesses very similar habits. At least it has the same confiding disposition asthat bird, as is attested by the fact that itshabit ofstanding inamazed curiosity to watch the movements of an approachingfoe intent onitsdestruction has earned itthe contemptuous epithet of "fool hen." Like our ruffed grouse, this bird isa drummer, but instead of sounding the roll from rock orlog, the male drums, according to Dawson, by rapidlybeating the airwith his wings asheslowly sinks from some elevated station or mounts upwards toit.