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Common grouse and woodcock afflictions



Abscesses are commonly observed in upland game birds as a result of a traumatic injury, usually either blunt trauma or trauma caused by a firearm projectile. Abscesses in avian species can be irregularly shaped; tan, white, gray, or black in color; and solid consisting of caseous necrotic (onion-like) material enclosed in a capsule. Often the breast musculature is the affected area. An abscess can easily be removed and the remaining tissue is edible.

Digestive tract

Proventricular worm

The proventricular worm (Dispharynx nasuta) occasionally occurs in the proventricular lining of ruffed grouse and woodcock in Michigan. Adult worms are short, thick, white, and coiled and are found in the glandular and muscular stomachs. The presence of the worms in the proventriculus results in the lumen of the stomach being filled with thick, white, slime-like mucous, sloughed stomach tissue, and necrotic material. These materials may combine to occlude the lumen of the proventriculus preventing passage of food and resulting in emaciation and eventual death. In severe cases such as this, the bird is likely to be inedible by a human because of the lack of muscle on the carcass.

Intestinal roundworm

The intestinal roundworm (Ascaridia bonasae) occurs frequently in ruffed grouse in Michigan. This ascarid resides in the small intes-tine and is often found lying free in the abdominal cavity when the intestine has been torn by a projectile. Usually the worm does not adversely affect the condition of the bird. These nematodes are not infectious to humans, so the meat of an infected bird is edible.


West Nile Virus (WNV) and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE)

Grouse affected with WNV or EEE generally display neurologically abnormal behavior such as erratic flying. Hunters may observe this behavior or find that a bird that they have harvested is in poor physical condition. Birds may also be found dead for no apparent reason. The entire carcass should be collected and submitted for examination.