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Studies of the holding, behaviour and nutrition of captive blue grouse Stirling, Ian Grote

Abstract

The primary purpose of keeping blue grouse was to learn to keep them in good health and breed them. New data were obtained on the weights, nutrition, survival, diseases, and behaviour of blue grouse in captivity. They were kept in 3 sizes of pens, 2 feet wide by 4 feet high by 8 feet long, 6 feet wide by 4 feet high by 8 feet long, and 20 feet wide by 10 feet high by 20 feet long. On the basis of plumage condition and reproductive behaviour the medium sized pens were best. The level of protein of the diet of the hens appeared to affect survival and reproductive behaviour. Grouse that were fed a diet with 18 percent protein had better survival and exhibited more reproductive behaviour than grouse fed a diet with 24 or 28 percent protein. Grouse were unable to survive on a diet of dried and pelleted Douglas fir needles. None of the conclusions reached appear applicable to conditions observed in the field. Hens exhibiting reproductive behaviour were sexually imprinted upon humans. The only successful method of mating grouse was to take a male exhibiting sexual display to a squatting female. Artificial insemination was as successful as natural matings in the aviary. The apparent digestibility of the commercial chicken breeder ration varied from 51.2 to 64.9 percent. There was a relationship between the daily consumption of water and body weight. The study of behaviour indicated there was a relationship between the hooting of males and the squatting and egg laying of females. Adult males hooted more than yearlings. The female usually gave a pre-copulatory cry when ready to mate. Males became more aggressive during the breeding season and less aggressive through the summer. The females appeared to have two peaks of aggressive behaviour during the reproductive season. Aggressive behaviour of females may serve to space them in the field during the period of nesting. There may be a period of aggressive behaviour in males during the winter. A partial catalogue of grouse behaviour was made. Photo graphs of postures and sonographs of calls supplement description.

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