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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.

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

There is little information on Dusky Grouse population numbers and trends. Overall, populations appeared stable between 1966 and 2014, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. Partners in Flight estimates a global breeding population of 300,000, with 56% living int he U.S., and 44% in Canada. The species rates a 12 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score. Dusky Grouse is a U.S.-Canada Stewardship species and is not on the 2014 State of the Birds Watch List.

Credits

Range Map Help

Dusky Grouse Range Map
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bird image Blue-winged Warbler by Brian Sullivan

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