Pinnacle Grouse. - [Fearsome Critter.] - [Latin: Avis gyrovolitatus.]
• About: An exemplary species of grouse, however, this species hatches with just one wing. Surprisingly: it displays elegance & speed in flight: it flies gyroscopic circles around mountainsides & trees: picking up speed until it eventually it catches up with & 'crashes into itself' at the summit! - The colours of its plumage would change with the seasons and depending on the condition of the observer (Typically Whisky-sodden Lumberjacks.)
• History: Most commonly described simply as "a bird with just one wing" and far more often mentioned as another one of the birds which lived on 'Pyramid Forty' – the pinnacle grouse is best known as one of many 'avian critters' included in 'Paul Bunyan's Natural History' [C.E.Brown 1935] - The short but sweet description goes as follows:
"PINNACLE GROUSE. This bird had only one wing. This enabled it to fly in only one direction about the top of a conical hill. The colour of its plumage changed with the seasons and with the condition of the observer."
The bird was also mentioned earlier, in the 'wild animal' section of Wisconsin Folklore pamphlets [Brown 1927] and earlier still: potentially the original mention of the 'pinnacle grouse' seems to be by Esther Shepard who had described the bird quite fondly (alongside the 'side-hill gouger') in her novel about Paul bunyan [1924.] (or at least its one of the earliest, if there where earlier mentions they where either oral, or i'm unable to locate them as of writing.) –
...Skipping ahead, for a number of years the critter was also spoken of in newspapers, jokebooks and whatnot, the above described "Paul Bunyan Natural history" description became the popular "copy paste" -
[middle, depicted among the 'Birds of Paul Bunyan' - 1981]
"The Pinnacle Grouse has only one wing and sort of a corkscrew bill. It can fly rings around anything, but it prefers the top of a hill."
Finally, it was given its proper Latin name in "Mythical Creatures of United States and Canada" [Wyman, 1979]
...Of course "One-winged birds" and "Birds with silly beaks." go back a long long time to mythology, before all that, another very similar 'Avian critter' spoken of in British and Australian folklore is known as the "Oozlum bird" mentioned as early as the third edition of the oxford dictionary in  - it has also been described in Australian joke books & other such literature as: "always flying tail first to keep the dust out of its eyes" - (as I earlier discussed, its essentially described identically to the 'Goofus Bird.')- However!!! yet another supposed variant to the Oozlum bird is known as the "Weejy weejy bird", which was said to have only "One wing which caused it to fly in tighter, faster, smaller circles until it disappears up its own fundament." - [Note: 'fundament' was old English for 'Arsehole.'] - (see also, the exploding "Qozlefinch.")
...Yet another 'one-winged bird' from older Chinese myth is the 'Jian bird' it has been described as an 'imperfect bird that needs to lean against another one in order to be able to fly.' - (Although in the myth its supposed to be the picture of elegance: i cant help but draw a parallel: the "leaning one another" trait is also shared with migrating Side Hill Gougers.) -
A few other 'avian' fearsome critters with 'silly beaks' include the "Swamp Auger" and the sizzerbill... the 'Corkscrew beak' is a trait shared widely among the 'Auger' family of critters.
--Ahem! but lets not conflate any of the above together of course, Simply put, the Pinnacle Grouse is quite likely derivative from these stories, but at this point, I suppose that 'the joke' goes back so far it's difficult to say whichever came 'first.' - (if that even matters!) - Of course, these days the 'Pinnacle Grouse' is usually only ever thought about when the goofus bird (or one of its many variants) is brought up, it's a bit of a shame really, it certainly is a fun topic (i suppose if you've read this far you agree!)
All of that said, 'Pinnacle Grouse' stories could also have been a yarn simply inspired by how certain types of grouse plumage make it sort of look as if they've had a limb torn off. - (Blue Dusky Grouse for instance looks especially dismembered, this trait is also shared with others of the species and is used for both intimidation and attracting mates. - (I bring this up for those that arent used to 'birding' they're local to BC, apparently our local grouse mountain is also named after the bird. (something that hadn't even crossed my mind until researching this!)
[Image Source: a male 'blue dusky' grouse doing a mating strut.] - it's not hard to see how the yarn could have come to been invented. but instead based off of certain grouse which where native to Wisconsin, yeah? - These birds are fairly common too: so its funny to imagine a young scout (who didn't know better) get excited about seeing "a rare bird!" (this is all just a theory though!)
...Speaking of local parallel critters that "spin or run in circles to the point of self-destruction or to simply vanish" yet another parallel story to the 'Pinnacle Grouse' could be the "Corkscrew Owl & the runaround" which is about a species of owl which spins its head around to the point of twisting the tops of ponderosa pine trees: apparently, it does this as it follows a 'small creature' called the 'Runaround' which, as the name suggests runs very quickly around a tree til it reaches the top, then, presumably: vanishes into thin air! - (This sorry was first spoken of in Tall Tales of British Columbia  though the story notes say there are parallels in New York and other places too.) -i digress, the runaround and corkscrew owl will probably best further elaborated on in their own sticker bio's another time.
(for those wondering why i didn't draw the grouse 'in-flight' like one might predict i would: i decided to have a second one "in flight" on the info page in the zine when its complete. expect an update when i eventually draw that. :)
Art sticker by Samkalensky, part of my fearsome critters collection of stickers, check my shop for many more!