Spruce Grouse (Falcipennis canadensis)

Spruce Grouse

[order] GALLIFORMES | [family] Phasianidae | [latin] Falcipennis canadensis | [UK] Spruce Grouse | [FR] Tetras du Canada | [DE] Tannenhuhn | [ES] Gallo Canadiense | [NL] Bossneeuwhoen


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Tetrao canadensis
Falcipennis canadensis NA Alaska, Canada, n USA
Falcipennis canadensis atratus s Alaska (USA)
Falcipennis canadensis canace se Canada and ne USA
Falcipennis canadensis canadensis c Alberta to Labrador and Nova Scotia (Canada)
Falcipennis canadensis franklinii se Alaska to nw Wyoming and Idaho (USA)
Falcipennis canadensis isleibi se Alaska (USA)
Falcipennis canadensis osgoodi n Alaska (USA)

Physical charateristics

Look for this very tame, dusky grouse in the deep, wet conifer forests of the North. The male has a sharply defined black breast, with some white spots or bars on the sides and a chestnut band
on the tip of the tail. A comb of erectile red skin above the eye is visible at close range. Birds of the northern Rockies and Cascades, known as “Franklin’s Grouse,” lack the chestnut tip and have large white spots on the upper tail coverts. Female is d
ark rusty or grayish brown, thickly barred; tail short and dark, with a rusty tip (except in “Franklin’s” form).

Listen to the sound of Spruce Grouse

[audio:http://www.aviflevoland.nl/sounddb/S/Spruce Grouse.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 55 cm wingspan max.: 60 cm
size min.: 39 cm size max.: 42 cm
incubation min.: 22 days incubation max.: 25 days
fledging min.: 9 days fledging max.: 12 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 5  
      eggs max.: 8  


North America : Alaska, Canada, North USA


Conifer forest, pines, muskeg.
Almost always in conifer forest but not necessarily in spruce. Prime habitat includes burned areas grown up to dense stands of jack pine or lodgepole pine, also forests of spruce, subalpine fir, hemlock, with dense undergrowth. Also on blueberry barrens.
During dispersal in fall, sometimes found in deciduous woods.


Both females and males defend individual territories in breeding season. Male displays by drumming with wings, making deep thumping sound; also raising and spreading tail, fluffing out feathers. Males of “Franklin’s” race also make loud wing-clap in flight. One male may mate with several females. Nest: Site is on ground under dense cover. Nest (built by female) is shallow depression, lined with a few needles and leaves. Eggs: 4-10, usually 5-7. Olive to buff, usually blotched with brown. Females of “Fanklin’s” race tend to lay fewer eggs. Incubation is by female only, about 20-24 days. When leaving nest, female may partly cover eggs with dry needles and leaves. Young: Downy young leave nest shortly after hatching. Female tends young, but young feed themselves. Young can make short flights at 6-8 days old, are full-grown at about 10-11 weeks, become independent at about 10-15 weeks.

Feeding habits

Mostly conifer needles. Adults are mostly vegetarian, feeding heavily on needles of pines, spruce, other conifers. Diet may be almost entirely
conifer needles in winter. At other times also eats fresh green shoots and leaves of other plants, berries, flowers, insects, snails, and fungi. Very young birds may eat more insects.
Behavior: Does much of its foraging on the ground in summer; forages almost entirely in trees in winter.


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). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not 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.
Spruce Grouse status Least Concern


Alaska, Canada, northern United States.
Most individuals are permanent residents, but some move short distances (less than ten miles) between summer and winter territories. This “migration” is accomplished on foot. Females more likely to move than males, and tend to go farther.

Distribution map

Spruce Grouse distribution range map

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