Dusky grouse

Dusky grouse
Dendragapus obscurus
Photo by Ian Maton (Internet Bird Collection)

Common name:
dusky grouse (en); tetraz-sombrio (pt); tétras sombre (fr); gallo de las Rocosas (es); felsengebirgshuhn (de)

Order Galliformes
Family Tetraonidae

This species is found in western North America, from south-eastern Alaska and the Northwest territories south to California, Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado.

These birds are 39-53 cm long and weigh 750-1.300 g.

The dusky grouse is found in deciduous, mixed and coniferous forests, both in temperate and boreal areas. They are found from sea level up to an altitude of 3.600 m.

They mostly eat leaves, flowers and conifer needles, namely fir and douglas-fir needles, occasionally also hemlock and pine needles, and also other green plants such as Pteridium, Salix, and the berries of Gaultheria, Mahonia, Rubus, Vaccinium. During summer, and especially the juveniles, also eat some insects, particularly ants, beetles and grasshoppers.

The males sing to attract females, but have no further part in the breeding process after mating. The nest is a shallow scrape in the forest ground, sparsely lined with dead twigs, needles, leaves, and feathers. There the female lays 5-10 creamy-white eggs with brown spots, which she incubates alone for 25-27 days. The chicks leave the nest shortly after hatching and are able to feed themselves, but rely on their mother for warmth and protection.

IUCN status – LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and the global population is estimated at 3 million individuals. The population has undergone a small decline over the last 4 decades, but it is not considered threatened at present.

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