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Blue Grouse
Dendragapus obscurus

Grouse-like Birds
Grouse Family (Phasianidae)

Size: Length: 43-56 cm (17-22 in)

Description: The male blue grouse has a dark brown, back with a dark gray breast. There is usually a light patch on the chin, along the sides and on the undertail coverts. The head has a yellow to orange comb above the eye and may have a white eye-ring and eye-streak visible. The tail is fan-shaped and black with a gray tip (the gray tip is only present in the northern part of its range). During the courtship display, the male exposes a patch of orange skin around the shoulder by spreading the surrounding feathers back. These feathers are white beneath, giving the effect of a white patch of feathers surrounding this orange skin.

Females are much more drably coloured. They are mottled brown, with a white eyebrow line and a light, mottled underside. They have the same black tail with the northern population showing a gray terminal band.

Similar Species: Female ruffed grouse are similar, but have a prominent crest and banded tail. Female spruce grouse have a reddish tip to their tail.

Range: The blue grouse is found throughout the Canadian and American Rockies.

Habitat: The blue grouse moves through several habitats over the course of the year. During the spring mating season, it is found at lower elevations in open country, including fire sites, meadows, and forest edges. At other times of the year, look for them in coniferous forests at higher elevations, sometimes up to treeline.

Diet: They feed on seeds, berries and plants during the summer, resorting to eating a large number of pine needles through the winter months.

Nesting: The nest is on the ground, making a shallow scraping lined with leaves and other vegetation. The nest is hidden at the base of a tree, rock or stump, and the female lays between 6 and 8 (sometimes up to 12) pinkish or buff, lightly speckled eggs. Incubation lasts 26 days and is done by the female. The precocial nestlings leave the nest almost immediately, and can fly short distances within a week. They disperse by late summer.

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All Material Ward Cameron 2005

 

 

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