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Sooty Grouse

Dendragapus fuliginosus ORDER: GALLIFORMES FAMILY: PHASIANIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

One of North America’s largest grouse, the Sooty Grouse used to be considered the darker, coastal 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 Sooty 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 Sooty Grouse, however, can have from 15 to 22.

Habitat


Forest

During 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.

Food


Plants

Mainly leaves, flowers and conifer needles. Sooty 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, Sooty Grouse spend most of their time in coniferous trees eating needles. In general, males vocalize often and while perched in trees.

Conservation

status via IUCN

Least Concern

Sooty 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.

Credits

Range Map Help

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

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