Birds in Focus- Georgia Game Birds
by Chris Showalter

Eastern Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo)

Ruffed Grouse (Bonasa umbellus)

Northern Bobwhite (Colinus virginianus)

A “game” bird is literally any bird that is hunted for sport, especially one used for food.  Game birds include ducks, geese, grouse, quail, doves, turkeys, and pheasants among others.  The ducks and their allies, geese and swans, are usually separated into their own category, “waterfowl.”  The term game bird is usually meant to describe a bird in the order Galliformes, which would include pheasants, peafowl, francolin, partridge, quail, grouse, turkey, guineafowl and cracids (chachalacas, guans and curassows). 

Game birds are very familiar to most people.  One species in particular, the Red Junglefowl (Gallus gallus), may be the most important bird species in the world as they are the likely ancestors of domestic chickens.  The Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) has been domesticated as well and has become a staple food item for millions of people. Indeed, game birds are significant around the world both culturally and economically.

The native game birds in Georgia are the Ruffed Grouse (Bonasa umbellus), the Eastern Wild Turkey, and the Northern Bobwhtie Quail (Colinus virginianus).  In addition, the Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura) is one of the most commonly hunted animal species in Georgia, although it is not in order Galliformes.


Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)

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All images obtained from the USFWS National Image Library or WikiCommons. They have been released to the public domain.