Black Grouse is a large bird with males being around 53 centimetres (21 in) long and weighing 1,000-1,450 grams (2.20-3.20 lb) and females approximately 40 centimetres (16 in) and weighing 750-1,110 grams (1.65-2.45 lb). The cock is very distinctive, with black plumage, apart from red wattles and a white wingbar, and a lyre-shaped tail, which appears forked in flight. The female is greyish-brown.
Habitat and Distribution
Black Grouse can be found across Europe (Swiss-Italian-French Alps specially) from Great Britain (but not Ireland) through Scandinavia and Estonia into Russia. In Eastern Europe they can be found in Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Belarus, Romania and Ukraine. There is a population in the Alps, and isolated remnants in Germany, France, Belgium and the Netherlands. It formerly occurred in Denmark, but the Danish Ornithological Society (DOF) has considered it extinct since 2001. The species disappeared from Bulgaria in the 19th century.
Black grouse feed on shoots, berries, buds and flowers.
Black grouse have a very distinctive and well-recorded courtship ritual or game. At dawn in the spring, the males strut around in a traditional area and display whilst making a highly distinctive mating call. This process is called a lek - the grouse are said to be lekking. In western Europe these gatherings seldom involve more than 40 birds; in Russia 150 is not uncommon and 200 have been recorded. The female takes all responsibility for nesting and caring for the chicks, as is typical with gamebirds.
Calls and Songs
The male's song is loud, bubbling and somewhat dove-like. The female has a cackling call.