Grouse chicks

From the first day, chicks from the pock fry have already walked and pecked seeds, keeping at noon in the shadow between the legs of the parent. But to fly to a watering place for several tens of kilometers, like adult birds, chicks cannot, therefore) the male brings water … in special feathers on his belly. Arriving at the watering place, he ruffled feathers and enters the water “chest to foot”. 

Then it sways back and forth for a while until the feathers, like a sponge, are saturated with water. At the same time he drinks himself. Returning to the brood, the male is stretched out in a column, and the chicks running up suck, or rather squeeze water from the protruded abdomen, as if they were pigs sucking a pig. On especially hot days, a caring father should bring water several times. The same need arises if the watering hole is located far from the nesting site, since a lot of water evaporates during the flight. That’s where the male needs strength

The ability of the abdominal feathers of small fry to absorb a large amount of water is associated with their structure. The second order broods are devoid of hooks and are not linked, but are twisted in a spiral. When wet, they unwind and stand perpendicular to the plane of the fan of the pen, forming a layer of “felt” around it. He also holds water. Feathers are wetted by special brushes made of finest hairs at the ends of second-order barbs. Water in them is retained due to surface tension forces. In addition, the male, before entering the water, rubs his abdomen on the ground, removing fat and “powder” from the feathers, which could prevent wetting.
The female also has “aquifer” feathers, but they are much smaller. Apparently, the female carries water to already grown chicks, when it is already not easy to bring the right amount of water to one male. Indeed, despite the fact that three-week-old chicks begin to master the air element, they are “afraid” of their parents up to two months of age.

Only then their wings will be strong enough to make long daily flights to a watering place.
Black-bellied grouse (Pterocles orientalis) lives in Russia in the steppes and semi-deserts of the Caspian Sea, southern Altai and Tuva, and migrates to the Near and Middle East for the winter. Like other hazel grouses, he has small legs with a feathered forearm and short fingers. The first finger is smaller than the others and slightly raised up so that it does not reach the ground – a sure sign of a land bird. And indeed, the grouse never sits on tree branches.

The generic scientific name of the Saji (Syrrhaptes paradoxus) can be translated as “stitched together” – referring to the front fingers of the Saji (the back, that is, the first, her finger disappeared), which are especially strongly shortened and almost completely fused. Therefore, the saju is also called the “carving”. The fingers are supported from above, so that the bird seems to be shod in small white boots with the fur outward. The species epithet – “paradoxical” – can be associated with periodic mysterious migrations of the sajj far beyond the habitual habitat of her (she usually lives in the steppes and semi-deserts of Asia, lying between 40 “and 50” north latitude from the Caspian Sea to northeast China) Over the past 200 years, numerous invasions of Saji into Europe occurred in 1863, 1888 and 1908, when thousands of birds were seen in many European countries, right up to the Faroe Islands, Norway and Scotland. 

The following spring, Saja tries to nest in a new place, but always after a year – another disappears without a trace. You can distinguish a hajj from a black-bellied hazel by two long central steering feathers. Sometimes a white-bellied grouse (P. alchala) flying into the territory of Russia can easily be distinguished from the two previous species by a white belly without a black spot.