• Skip to Content
  • Skip to Main Navigation
  • Skip to Local Navigation
  • Skip to Search
  • Skip to Sitemap
  • Skip to Footer

Dusky Grouse


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

Both Sexes
15.7–19.7 in
40–50 cm
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.



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.



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


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


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


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.


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.


Range Map Help

Dusky Grouse Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings


Or Browse Bird Guide by Family, Name or Shape
bird image Blue-winged Warbler by Brian Sullivan

The Cornell Lab will send you updates about birds, birding, and opportunities to help bird conservation. You can unsubscribe at any time. We will never sell or give your email address to others.