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Dusky Grouse

Dendragapus obscurus ORDER: GALLIFORMES FAMILY: PHASIANIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

One of North America’s largest grouse, the Dusky Grouse used to be considered the paler, interior subspecies of the Blue Grouse. Recent DNA evidence supports the spilt of the Blue Grouse into two separate species, the Dusky Grouse and the Sooty Grouse. The male’s deep booming call is hard to locate.

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At a GlanceHelp

Measurements
Both Sexes
Length
15.7–19.7 in
40–50 cm
Weight
26.5–45.9 oz
750–1300 g
Other Names
  • Tétras sombre (French)
  • Gallo azul (Spanish)

Cool Facts

  • The Dusky Grouse is the third largest grouse in North America, and one of the largest in the world. The two sage-grouse are the only larger American species.
  • The number of tail feathers a bird has is usually constant within a species (and usually numbering around 10). The Dusky Grouse, however, can have from 15 to 22.

Habitat


Forest

During breeding season, can be found in dry grasslands and shrublands as well as dry mountainous forests and subalpine habitats. In winter, found almost entirely in coniferous forests.

Food


Plants

Mainly leaves, flowers and conifer needles. Dusky Grouse, especially juveniles, will also eat small invertebrates.

Nesting

Nesting Facts
Condition at Hatching
Downy and able to follow mother.
Nest Description

Nest is generally a shallow depression in the ground, lined with dead vegetation and body feathers.

Nest Placement

Ground

Almost always nests on ground with variable amounts of cover; from open, recently burned areas to dense coniferous or mixed coniferous forests.

Behavior


Ground Forager

Spends most of its time on the ground foraging, but will also forage for buds in deciduous trees and needles in coniferous trees. During winter, Dusky Grouse spend most of their time in coniferous trees eating needles. In general, they vocalize from the ground and rather infrequently.

Conservation

status via IUCN

Least Concern

Most populations appear stable, may be declining in some areas. Needs more research.

Credits

  • Zwickel, F. C. 1992. Blue Grouse (Dendragapus obscurus ).  In The Birds of North America, No. 15 (A. Poole, P. Stettenheim, and F. Gill, Eds.). Philadelphia: The Academy of Natural Sciences; Washington, DC: The American Ornithologists' Union.

Range Map Help

Dusky Grouse Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings