Sooty Grouse Life History


Habitat ForestsDuring breeding season, can be found in forested habitats from sea level to thousands of feet in elevation. Lowland forest is the preferred habitat for this species. In winter, found almost entirely in coniferous forests.Back to top


Food PlantsMainly leaves, flowers and conifer needles. Sooty Grouse, especially juveniles, will also eat small invertebrates.Back to top


Nest Placement

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

Nest Description

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

Nesting Facts
Condition at Hatching:Downy and able to follow mother.
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Behavior Ground ForagerSpends most of its time on the ground foraging, but will also forage for buds in deciduous trees and needles in coniferous trees. During winter, Sooty Grouse spend most of their time in coniferous trees eating needles. In general, males vocalize often and while perched in trees. Back to top


Conservation DecliningSooty Grouse populations declined by almost 2% per year between 1966 and 2014, resulting in a cumulative loss of 57%, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. Partners in Flight estimates a global breeding population of 2 million with 47% living in the U.S., and 53% in Canada. Sooty Grouse is a U.S.-Canada Stewardship species and is on the 2014 State of the Birds Watch List, which lists bird species that are at risk of becoming threatened or endangered without conservation action.Back to top


North American Bird Conservation Initiative. 2014. The State of the Birds 2014 Report. US Department of Interior, Washington, DC, USA.

Partners in Flight (2017). Avian Conservation Assessment Database. 2017.

Sauer, J. R., J. E. Hines, J. E. Fallon, K. L. Pardieck, Jr. Ziolkowski, D. J. and W. A. Link. The North American Breeding Bird Survey, results and analysis 1966-2013 (Version 1.30.15). USGS Patuxtent Wildlife Research Center 2014b. Available from

Sibley, D. A. (2014). The Sibley guide to birds, second edition. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, USA.

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