The Red Grouse is differentiated from the Willow Ptarmigan and Rock Ptarmigan by its plumage being reddish brown, and not having a white winter plumage. The tail is black and the legs are white. There are white stripes on the underwing and red combs over the eye. Females are less reddish than the males and have less conspicuous combs. Young birds are duller and lack the red combs.

Habitat and Distribution

It is found across most of Scotland, including Orkney, Shetland and the Outer Hebrides. They are only absent from urban areas, such as the Central Belt, and around Fife. In England it occurs in the north - places such as Lake District, County Durham, Northumberland, much of Yorkshire, the Pennines and the Peak District, and south to Staffordshire Moorlands. Its typical habitat is upland heather moors away from trees, some low-lying bogs and during hard weather in farmland areas.


The Red Grouse is herbivorous and feeds mainly on the shoots, seeds and flowers of heather. It will also feed on berries, cereal crops and sometimes insects.


The birds begin to form pairs during the autumn and males become increasingly territorial as winter progresses. The nest is a shallow scrape up to 20 cm across which is lined with vegetation. About six to nine eggs are laid, mainly during April and May. They are oval, glossy and pale yellow with dark brown blotches. The eggs are incubated for 19 to 25 days, the chicks can fly after 12 to 13 days after hatching and are fully grown after 30 to 35 days.

Calls and Songs

It is identified by its 'chut!chut!chut!chut!chut!chuttt....' call, or the 'Goback, goback, goback' vocalisation.