London. 1833. Handcolored engraving with aquatint and etching by R. Havell, 1833, paper watermarked "J. Whatman / 1836." Plate CLXXVI  from the first edition of THE BIRDS OF AMERICA. Sheet size: 37 3/4 x 25 3/8 inches. Two very small neatly repaired marginal tears, else very good. Item #WRCAM27170
A fine print of one of the rarer and very elusive game- birds of the northern States. A group of two male and two female Spruce Grouse (Canachites canadiensis) are shown on the edge of undergrowth that includes painted trilliam and twisted- stalk. They all look warily about, the male in the foreground takes fright at an imagined danger. "Audubon went to the state of Maine to observe the habits of this dark, secretive grouse and, although he succeeded, the task, he admitted, was perhaps as severe as any he ever undertook. 'These breeding grounds,' he wrote, 'I cannot better describe than by telling you that the larch forests, which are there called "Hackmetack Woods," are as difficult to traverse as the most tangled swamp of Labrador...We sunk at every step or two up to the waist, our legs stuck in the mire and our bodies squeezed between the dead trunks and branches of trees, the minute leaves of which insinuated among my clothes, and nearly blinded me...We saved our guns from injury, however, and seeing some of the Spruce Partridge before they perceived us, we procured several specimens.' There is some evidence that the spruce grouse may not be as abundant today as it was in earlier times. It is no longer easy to find, at least in the southern parts of its range" - Peterson. Susanne M. Low, A GUIDE TO AUDUBON'S Birds of America (New Haven & New York, 2002), p.113. R.T. & V.M. Peterson, AUDUBON'S Birds of America (London, 1981) 118.