Dusky Grouse (Dendragapus obscurus)

Dusky Grouse

[order] GALLIFORMES | [family] Phasianidae | [latin] Dendragapus obscurus | [UK] Dusky Grouse | [FR] Tetras sombre | [DE] Felsen-Gebirgshuhn | [ES] Gallo de las Rocosas Negro | [NL] Blauw Sneeuwhoen


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Dendragapus obscurus NA s Yukon to c Colorado
Dendragapus obscurus obscurus Wyoming to New Mexico and Arizona (USA)
Dendragapus obscurus oreinus e Nevada, s Idaho, w Utah (USA)
Dendragapus obscurus pallidus se British Columbia (Canada) to ne Oregon and w Wyoming (USA)
Dendragapus obscurus richardsonii s Yukon (Canada) to Idaho, nw Wyoming and w Montana (USA)

Physical charateristics

The male is a dusky or sooty grouse. At the tip of its blackish tail is a broadpale band (absent in populations in the northern Rockies). Above each eye is a yellow or orange comb,
erectile in display. In courtship display, coastal birds have yellow neck sacs; in birds of the Rockies, the neck sacs are purplish.
Females are brown, mottled with black, and pale-bellied; their dark tails are somewhat like those of the males.

wingspan min.: 63 cm wingspan max.: 68 cm
size min.: 45 cm size max.: 55 cm
incubation min.: 25 days incubation max.: 26 days
fledging min.: 1 days fledging max.: 1 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 7  
      eggs max.: 16  


North America : South Yukon to Central Colorado


Deciduous and mixed forests in mountains in summer; conifer forests at higher elevations in winter. Prime summer habitat for inland birds is whe
re forest meets open country, such as sagebrush flats. In winter, these birds favor dense forests of conifers. Coastal birds may be in semi-open coniferous forest (old growth or recently logged) all year.


Females provide all parental care. Nests are a shallow scrape in the ground, sometimes with little or no cover, sparsely lined with dead twigs, needles, leaves, and feathers. Females lay and incubate for about 4 weeks, 1?12 buffy, lightly speckled eggs (normally 4?9). The young leave the nest within a day after hatching. Females tend the young, but do not feed them.

Feeding habits

In summer, Dusky Grouse feed on the ground on leaves, flowers, buds, berries, conifer needles, and insects. In winter, they forage in trees for needles of pines, firs, and other conifers. In many parts of their Washington range larch and pine needles are the predominant food source. Young birds eat mostly insects, especially in the first 10 days of life.


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Dusky Grouse status Least Concern


Western North America. Migration:
Most birds move in autumn from fairly open breeding areas to dense coniferous forest. In most parts of range, this involves moving uphill to spend the winter. Maximum known travel is about 30 miles; most go shorter distances.

Distribution map

Dusky Grouse distribution range map

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