The Canadian grouse (Bonasa umbellus) is a medium-sized species of grouse that inhabits the forested regions of the northern United States and central and southern Canada. It is the only representative of the monotypic genus Bonasa. It is a stocky bird with a small head, rounded wings, strong legs, and a long tail that has a fan shape when spread. Cranes have inconspicuous, brown-colored plumage with white and dark splashes that help them blend in well with their surroundings. The plumage extends down to the toes, the toes are featherless.
Whooping cranes are famous for their unique flow involving so-called drumming. During the spring, roosters attract females to their territories by rapidly flapping their wings in front of their bodies, creating a temporary vacuum and resulting drum-like sounds. After the female chooses her drummer, a brief copulation occurs. Only the female takes care of building the nest, incubating and raising the young. A clutch usually consists of 10–12 eggs, the incubation period lasts 23–24 days. Precocial and nidifugal chicks leave the nest within 24 h after birth and start looking for food. They are kept close to the mother until the age of 12-15 weeks, when the chicks become independent.
They feed mainly on plant food, the basis of their diet is tree material such as buds, acorns, roots, tree twigs, acorns and other seeds. In the warm months, he varies his menu with berries and insects. The species is very abundant in places, despite the fact that it is a favorite prey of a number of species of birds of prey and beasts. Some snakes and crows also feast on its eggs. It is a sought-after game bird of North American hunters. It produces two forms (red and gray) and a large number of subspecies.
The species was first described in the 12th edition of Systema Naturae by Carl Linnaeus from 1766. Linné named the species as Tetrao umbellus. He placed the species alongside the Eurasian grouse (Tetrao). The British naturalist John Francis Stephens came up with the genus Bonasa in 1819. The genus Bonasa is monotypic, meaning it includes only the whooping crane. The name of the genus Bonasa is derived from the Latin term bonasus, which is also the generic name of the European bison and was probably created due to the similarity of the drumming sounds made by the cranes during courtship with the sounds of the bison. The species name umbellus comes from the Latin umbella ("umbrella") and refers to the elongated plumage on the neck of males, which when opened resembles an umbrella. The whooping crane has 2 forms (grey and red (the red form is sometimes referred to as brown or brown-yellow)) and a large number of subspecies. The issue of subspecies in whooping cranes is complex – individual subspecies may differ in geographic distribution, body size and plumage color. Efforts to generalize the shades of plumage in subspecies are further complicated by the occurrence of the mentioned two forms. The slightly different shades in the plumage of the subspecies are related to the type of vegetation in the subspecies range and the local climate. The number of recognized subspecies may vary slightly depending on the source. As of 2022, the International Ornithological Union recognizes 13 subspecies, which, together with the first description and place of occurrence, are listed below:
B. u. yukonensis Grinnell, 1916 - Alaska and northwestern Canada
B. u. umbelloides (Douglas, 1829) – southeastern Alaska, central Canada, Oregon, Wyoming
B. u. labradorensis Ouellet, 1991 - Labrador Peninsula
B. u. castanea Aldrich & Friedmann, 1943 - Olympic Peninsula
B. u. obscura Todd, 1947 - Northern Ontario
B. u. sabini (Douglas, 1829) – west coast of the USA and Canada
B. u. brunnescens Conover, 1935 - Vancouver Island
B. u. togata (Linnaeus, 1766) – central-northern parts of the USA, southeastern Canada
B. u. median Todd, 1940 – central-north