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Spruce Grouse

Falcipennis canadensis ORDER: GALLIFORMES FAMILY: PHASIANIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

A bird of coniferous forests, the Spruce Grouse inhabits much of Canada and portions of the northern United States. Inconspicuous and relatively quiet, it feeds largely on the needles of spruces and other conifers.

At a GlanceHelp

Measurements
Both Sexes
Length
15.4–15.7 in
39–40 cm
Wingspan
22.4 in
57 cm
Weight
14.1–22.9 oz
400–650 g
Other Names
  • Tétras du Canada (French)

Cool Facts

  • Two distinct subspecies of Spruce Grouse exist. "Franklin's Grouse," D. c. franklinii, found in the southwestern portion of the range, in the mountains from Alberta southward, has an all black tail with small white spots on the feathers overlying it. The northeastern subspecies, D. c. canadensis, has a rufous tip to the tail and lacks white spots above the tail.
  • The Spruce Grouse's crop can store up to ten percent of the bird's body weight in food, to be digested at night.
  • The Spruce Grouse's gastrointestinal organs change with seasonal shifts in diet. In winter, when the bird must eat more food to maintain its mass and energy balance, the gizzard grows by about 75 percent, and other sections of the digestive tract increase in length by about 40 percent.

Habitat


Forest

Coniferous forest, including those dominated by dense stands of spruce, pine, or fir.

Food


Plants

Mostly pine and spruce needles; some invertebrates in summer.

Nesting

Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
4–6 eggs
Egg Description
Olive with variable spots.
Condition at Hatching
Downy and able to follow mother.
Nest Description

A depression in the ground, lined with conifer needles and feathers. Site always has overhead cover, often at the base of a tree.

Nest Placement

Ground

Behavior


Foliage Gleaner

Territorial displays include fanning and sweeping of the tail, and wing claps. Unlike some other North American grouse, the Spruce Grouse does not have throat-sacs that inflate during displays. Forages in trees and on the ground.

Conservation

status via IUCN

Least Concern

There is little information on population trends of Spruce Grouse, but habitat loss is a threat to the species, and appears to have caused a dramatic reduction or elimination of populations in some areas. Partners in Flight estimates a global breeding population of 11 million with 19% living in the U.S., and 81% in Canada. The species rates an 8 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score. Spruce Grouse is a U.S.-Canada Stewardship species and is not on the 2014 State of the Birds Watch List. These birds have historically inhabited forests showing a fire-related patchwork of various stages of regeneration; timber harvesting can produce similar patterns, but only if clear-cut areas are small and if sufficient quantities of optimal habitat are preserved. Spruce Grouse is listed as "endangered" or "threatened" in some states at the edge of its range.

Credits

  • Boag, D. A. and M. A. Schroeder. 1992. Spruce Grouse (Dendragapus canadensis). In The Birds of North America, No. 5 (A. Poole, P. Stettenheim, and F. Gill, Eds.). Philadelphia: The Academy of Natural Sciences; Washington, DC: The American Ornithologists' Union.
  • North American Bird Conservation Initiative, U.S. Committee. 2014. State of the Birds 2014 Report. U.S. Department of Interior, Washington, DC.
  • Partners in Flight. 2012. Species assessment database.

Range Map Help

Spruce Grouse Range Map
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