Dusky grouse

The third largest grouse in North America is known for their shortest bird migration and resides permanently in an area they hatch

Male Blue Grouse; Paul Schullery; 1974

Previously known as the Blue Grouse, it is a native bird species found in the mountainous regions of North America, particularly in the Rocky Mountains. This large, chicken-like bird is a member of the grouse family and is well-adapted to life in the coniferous forests that blanket this rugged landscape.

Males of the species are noted for their striking greyish-blue plumage during the breeding season, which provides them with a degree of camouflage against the rocky terrain and tree trunks. In contrast, females and non-breeding males have a more mottled, brownish appearance that blends seamlessly with the forest floor, aiding in their protection from predators. The females are particularly well camouflaged, which is beneficial when nesting on the ground.

An interesting anatomical feature of the Dusky Grouse is their square-shaped tail, unique among grouse species. The tail is made up of more than 20 feathers, a higher number than that found in the tails of many other birds. This tail is used in displays during the mating season, where males fan their tail feathers to attract females.

The diet of the Dusky Grouse is quite specialized, consisting largely of the needles of pine, aspen, and fir trees. This diet is unusual for birds and demonstrates the Dusky Grouse’s remarkable adaptation to its environment. The grouse’s gizzard, a specialized stomach for grinding food, is particularly muscular to help digest this tough, fibrous material.

Nesting occurs in the spring and early summer, with the female selecting a well-hidden site on the ground, often under the cover of a shrub or a fallen log. This seclusion is critical for the survival of the eggs and the chicks once they hatch, as it helps to keep them hidden from predators.


Population est.
United States

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd / Flock

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No