Dusky Grouse

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Dusky Grouse

Dendragapus obscurus
  • ORDER: Galliformes
  • FAMILY: Phasianidae
Basic Description

This large grouse lives in mountain forests of ponderosa and lodgepole pine, aspen, and fir. Males are steely gray-blue with purplish air sacs in the neck and red eye combs that they show off for brownish, highly camouflaged females. The species ranges from sun-baked bitterbrush steppe to the twisted “krummholz” trees of frigid mountaintops, somehow managing to thrive on a simple diet of plants and insects. For nearly a century, this species was known as the “Blue Grouse” along with the similar Sooty Grouse of Pacific Coast forests.

More ID Info
image of range map for Dusky GrouseRange map provided by Birds of North AmericaExplore Maps

Find This Bird

Dusky Grouse are numerous but inconspicuous for most of the year. For this reason, your best chance to see them comes in early spring, when displaying males become both conspicuous and quite fearless, often easily approached. To find them, hike through a mountain forest with fairly open understory. Listen for the quiet, low-pitched, but insistent hoots that males make as part of their display. A displaying male struts repeatedly back and forth over a patch of open ground, tail fanned and air sacs and eyebrows exposed, usually allowing great views.

Other Names
  • Gallo Oscuro (Spanish)
  • Tétras sombre (French)
  • Cool Facts